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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  February 28, 2011 12:00pm-5:00pm EST

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are better portrayed rather than actions to identify what we're going to do. now, with that as a lead-in, mr. gordon, you say at the bottom of it -- not just the two simple parts -- you say that an informal comparison where you align the fpd the federal procurement data system, these acronyms have been completed only for a small percentage of awards. and in the body you -- i'm turning the page now but in the body you go on to lay out, in my words, 70% of these can be improved in some way, shape or form. now, then the statement in a contingent environment, the chart over here with just the three agencies that are going to kind of disagree with you. you say well, the fact of compliance with reporting requirements is important, i agree. the quality of the report submitted is what really
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matters. that's on this chart on that chart if they ain't providing it and you've got 90% that are absent and then you have of the remaining 10% 70% can be improved, you know, being an accountant by education, that leaves 3% that are knocking our socks off, 3 out of 100. and so you have to think contingency and i share my point and i ask for your comment is simply that in a contingent -- you know, i unlike that analysis. i think this analysis shows that in a contingent environment, right now you could say, right now the fact with compliance of reporting compliance is most important and you could put it in pairens because it ain't being done and in the future the quality can be improved, too. mr. gordon? >> chairman thibault, i'm in the happy situation to be able to agree even with what you couched
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as criticism or disagreement i agree with you. you can't even get started to begin on quality unless you have a report. if i could, could i -- could i step back and say a couple more words about this including the discussion -- >> i'm going to give you about 45 seconds to say a couple more words. >> i'll do my best. i do think that there's -- there were things said in the first panel discussion that were somewhat problematic assuming that these reports would solve all sorts of problems and in the of these reports we have nothing happening. both are problematic. the reports first of all wouldn't lead to suspension of debarrment. these are past performance issues. not things like for termination for default. and secondly, past performance assessments take place all the time. they're required -- we may not have the very good database we're trying to put together, but when i talk to people in the -- on the front line, they tell me that, yes, they do the past performance assessments. they're required to.
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they do it by contacting agencies points of contact. i could talk much more -- before let me stop you there. i'm glad you brought it there. i don't know what the front lines are but i've an places in places and they won't go us any further and when we talk to the ccc -- it used to be jcc-i/a, it's regionalized very effectively i think as far as the organization, we say, okay, past performance. yeah, we do it. okay, put it on the table. put your policies and procedures on the table. and somebody said -- we'll get them for you. i haven't seen them. i have not seen the poles and procedures for doing it. the best i got out of lieutenant colonel who got -- she got very irritated with me when i was president was that well, we have it. it's kind of informal. we do talk to people and i said, great. so get that and put it in, even
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if it's an index binder or something. it wasn't forthcoming. i have to ask my general officer if i can give it to you and we laughed as we do and never got it. so i say that -- you know, my personal experience is that it's a different environment but i wanted to bring that out because i think right now -- and i absolutely agree with you, that -- that you have to use past performance in the context in which it gives you information. but absent it, you can't use it. and i'm going to tell you there's -- and it was said before by the -- i think the i.g. and a couple of others resources drive it, well, resources drives it but it was set up here but what's it take to document that? and then to consider it? as an automatic item? mr. ginman? >> mr. gordon, i'm un-claire
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about this. are you saying there's an unformal process that we use that augments the required reporting and so on and then legally are you allowed to use it if it's informal? >> it's not informal we're required by the statute and the f.a.r. as an evaluation criteria and what happens is, because, the front line is what we call the front line forum. contracting officers who come in and meet with me every three months and we discuss these issues. we discuss past performance because it is such a high priority for us. >> let me just say this is going to come off my time. but i'm really unclear. you've got reporting requirements, most of the time it's not being done. it's supposed to protect in a sense the contractor. they have a right to exowhat's being said. in fact, they even can -- if our recommendation goes into effect, they can protest and stretch it out for months if not a year plus. and then you're saying, notwithstanding that, we do it
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differently informally in the field. >> it's not informal, sir. the requirement that past performance be a mandatory evaluation criterion in every contract valued above the simplified threshold for procurements have been in place for more than a decade. >> that's a law and it's not happening. >> it is sir, it is in every single case. i would be astonished if you found a case where there was a mandatory evaluation criterion that was ignored. what they do, though, is they don't use the database. when i asked the contracting officer -- >> so wait a sec. they don't use the database. they go around the database? >> they don't need the database. it didn't exist, sir. we had the requirement before we had the database. the contractors are required to identify relevant contracts that are supposedly similar. they give a government point of contact. the contracting officer contacts the point of contact in the other agency and schinasi or he makes the assessment of the contractor's performance.
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>> before we start the clock -- >> i'm going to take this off my time. >> no. the information you're getting in this little quorum is not complete and accurate. i can use usaid and dod in an actual case where there was a failed ghazni school project by a contractor that was part of the contractor and in the prison, again, where there was a failed -- i don't know if it's bazrat or whoever it contracted and i personally in both cases said, have you considered it in past performance? well, we probably wouldn't do business and i say well, fine, are you aware of other locations? well, yeah, the corps of engineers is using them and so-and-so is using them. and i say they never called and asked. so i'm -- you know, why didn't you call them? well, i don't know. so i'm just telling you the information you're getting sometimes is -- good news rolls uphill. sometimes bad news doesn't roll uphill. i will take a point of gathering
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some of my data, sir, and sharing it with you just so that -- we're not contentious on the point of the importance. we disagree on the point of -- is it really being done because i'm telling you, it's not really being done in theater. and i've been that to those outlying bases and i just don't go out there for their cameo. we spend a compel nights and we sleep in tents and things like that. so i'm telling you you've got some people that are rolling policy uphill is what they're doing and it ain't being done that way. >> sir, there's hundreds of gao bid protests decisions that discuss past performance without the use of cpars. >> are you talking contingency or are you talking outside of contingency? >> i'm sure -- >> but approximate all due respect there's a big difference between what happens in a contingency environment and what doesn't happen.
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>> as part of this continuing discussion that's not part of what we're doing, dick is jumping up and down. admiral ginman can you broy a little light on this? >> let me try this on several perspectives. i laid the department for the peer-review process and so when it's over a billion dollars and we go out, what mr. gordon said is absolutely correct. if we were doing an infinitely better job collecting cpars' data and having it it would be the principal source. when we asked for relevant and recent contracts, the first thing we do is go to pprs and pull that data. if we don't get sufficient data, then you do exactly as mr. gordon said. you go to the program manager of those contracts. we also looked to see -- maybe there's a contract there that they decided they didn't want to tell us about. you go to see are there other recent contracts with that contractor and look to see, should they be evaluated as well
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whether the company gave it to us or not. so at least from that perspective -- >> all right. let me, let me -- >> let me try the contingency. >> you're going to get a little bit of time on your own so you're not working on my time. >> i'm fine. so contingency, the fluor attempts where past performance is, in fact, evaluated as opposed to doing a comparative analysis but to determine it has adequate. in the earlier discussion i think the question that commissioner shays asked last was, what would you do? my answer in addition to his thought on oversight would have been simplicity in language. the reason that there's a new past performance system being put in theater is that, one, we have bandwidth issues trying to get back to stateside, two, more
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importantly the local vendors by and large do not speak english. cpars has not been a friendly process for local -- >> i'm -- i'm going to cut you off by also saying we've had hearings. your people have been here. lpta is not working as you just described. in addition, we have had cases in the security world where lives are at stake where people did not set aside the requirement and we said why have you awarded them another six or seven contracts and they came here and they said they were lpta and you said but what about your past performance and they sat there and kind of scratched the table. so i'm not -- you know, the point you want to make is well, it's working. well, it's not. >> i'm not saying it's working. >> okay. >> we'll end with that note. >> now, i have one other point that i want to make. i didn't get to the point but i'll make two statements. and you can respond at your leisure. >> first let me just make this point. you will not be here for the second round of questions so we'llist let you go around a little longer. >> the point what i brought you
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earlier and i noticed you were, admiral, was that should we be paying in our cost type environment and i'm not talking about the lpta, the afghan first program and people don't need to tell me about that. but do we need -- should we -- when there's an egregious corrective action plan that's agreed to, that is really egregious, and under a cost type environment, we can call it rework or anything you want. right now under the regulations i think it's an allowable cost. if you want to tell me there's a mechanism for contracting officers to go in there and say, no, i can hold you accountable and, therefore, should there be a mechanism where contracting officers in the field have that kind of decision-making authority to say that this corrective action plan is so egregious it's on you and introduce that into the process? >> so i think it is a question
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that i don't think i have looked at before. >> could you take an action? >> since 8:00 this morning when asked that question. [laughter] >> could you take an action, admiral, because -- >> yes. >> you all have done yeoman work on the business systems with the withholds and things. >> yes. >> now, in this area, you know, i don't think it's been on the table. but i really think that -- what motivates companies -- and these -- there's some good companies. this isn't about that. what motivates companies is money. i asked a cfo at general dynamics. what are your top three priorities, he said cash flow, cash flow, cash flow. mr. blalock i'm going to make an observation and other people can explore it. i'm disappointed in your representation that all is well but we need a well to use it. i have a word that no one says is a word called pablomistic. i believe many of your statements are -- you know, we
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got a really good system and they're effective but you got to have a well to use it. everything we've been shared -- has been shared with us on these charts well to use it right with narrative. well to use it at all in the contingency environment. discussion, the best discussion and that's not a system is, well, we have other ways. and we go out there and look at the other ways, will we really consider it and will we find major gaps. so i just make that statement. i think other people will explore it. i've got to leave on a personal matter. but i want to thank all six of ya because the job you're doing, mr. gordon, is exceptional. and i really like this dialog. and i've never had the admiral be bashful so we'll get back to both of you. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. thibault, cochair. and mr. green, you have the floor. >> thank you. mr. blalock, following up on
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commissioner thibault's comment, it came out in the panel this morning -- i don't think it's any surprise that you guys are supposed to be providing some reports to congress. you haven't done it. why? what are you doing? what do you do? >> thank you for the opportunity to explain that. you know, there's a risk when the government relies upon volunteers to do important government functions. for many years, from its inception in 1986 up until the spring of 2008, the isdc was privileged to have a very fine senior leader at the environmental protection agency as the chair of the isdc. because of his position, he could spend as much time as he needed to on isdc business. he had several staff members he could draw upon. and he had a vice chair who handled all admin and logistic
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matters for him. omb wisely when that individual announced his requirement required applicants to replace him, to provide an assurance that their agency would provide them with sufficient time to do the isdc business if they were selected. at the time, the navy sdo, who i worked for, did that. provided an assurance. well, unfortunately, then the world changed. that individual in may, 2009 -- that individual left and went to another position within ogc. i became the acting head of the acquisition integrity office and my responsibilities there for managing the office and attending a number of meetings that i didn't used to have to attend as the mere deputy took a great deal of my time in twine. in may of 2009, the navy got a
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new secretary. that secretary -- because of his prior experience -- >> i don't want to spend a career on this. >> the fact of the matter is, let me -- let me cut to the chase. my responsibilities at the navy have been increased by an order of magnitude and i have simply not had the opportunity to finish the report -- >> who -- >> if i may finish, i finished the fiscal '09 report in september of 2010. we decided to submit the draft report to the isdc members because it is a collegial body that tries to get everybody to agree on something before the isdc takes a position. that draft report was submitted to the isdc members in november of 2010 that. the draft report for fiscal year '09.
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comments that came back were, we were already so late, why don't we combine the fiscal year '10 report with the fiscal year '09 report? that is what we were doing? we send out to meet the requirements addressing active participation by the members. we send out a survey -- >> okay. that's enough. who appoints you? who selects you? who's your boss, not your navy boss. who's your boss under the isdc? >> the isdc -- omb selects the isdc chair. >> okay. do they have oversight over your activities? do they monitor you guys? do they care what you do? obviously, nobody cares what you do. >> there are two representatives from omb who are considered liaisons to the isdc.
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one from op and one from the office of federal financial management. one of those individuals usually attends the isdc meetings. she is available when i have questions on policy matters or something like that and usually responds to them. >> but who says, damn it, you're supposed to report to the congress. you haven't done squat? who cares? >> i don't have an answer for that. >> okay. that's enough. mr. gordon, i'm having difficulty understanding. i understand that, you know, we got some stuff in cpars, contracting officers talk to each other out there and compare notes and all that kind of stuff. and i don't disagree with much of that goes on, but sometimes as commissioner thibault says, it doesn't go on anyway. how does that square and what
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good does it do when 60% of contracting officers say whether they're in cpars or talking to their buddy, when 60% of them say they don't use past performance in contract decisions. how does that square? so what good does it do to have this stuff if you're not using it? >> mr. green, let me say first of all, that despite my explanations, i want to make clear we very much agree with the bottom line here, which is that we need to improve entry on the chart on the left and the quality of the chart on the right. i'm not sure what the people were referring to when they said they didn't use past performance. obviously, you could have a situation where past performance wasn't the discrimnator. i don't know if that's what they mean. if they mean they violated the law and did not include past performance is an evaluation criterion, i'd be very, very surprised. but i don't know what -- i don't know what the statistics are.
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>> it was in an '09 gao report. >> i don't recall what the context was. i'm happy to look that up, sir. >> okay, thank you. any of you, intercontingency operation, we've got a lot of money coming in. the tempo is very high. many opportunities despite the examples that we've used with boeing and northrop and others -- many opportunities to -- for fraud and waste. should we have a different system within special wartime sanctions if you will in a contingency operation so those contractors -- what some of you
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have termed too big to fail so that sanctions can be levied against them? >> you're asking my opinion, sir? >> yeah. >> i would -- i understand that the contingency environment creates special needs. and there could be appeal in having either a streamlined process, a different approach if we went down that road. first of all, i'd want to reflect on it and hear people's views but if we went down that road it might also make sense to limit the suspension or debarrment to that very environment. that is to say in afghanistan, for example. >> maybe it doesn't involve suspension debarrment. maybe it involves monetary penalties of some expanded nature, if you will? >> as with many of the recommendations, i saw in the interim report, it is an idea worth exploring. i'm uncomfortable giving an off-the-cuff response to what could be a very good idea. >> okay. thank you. anybody else?
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my time is up. >> thank you. we'll go to mr. tiefer. thank you, mr. green. >> thank you. you're both head of ftp and you're one of the most distinguished scholars on procurement law. although the report shows the incredibly low percentage of solid combinations of -- for past performance ratings and narrative. but as you -- drawing off on your knowledge of procurement, isn't it possible today for contractors to take advantage of this situation of the absence of ratings by taking contracts, which they have performed poorly on, but no one put into the
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system a rating or a narrative and citing those contracts when they're trying to show that they have the past experience, the past experience in theater, in wartime to get the contract? >> professor tiefer, thank you for first of all for the kind words which i fear may be undeserved and you may agree by the time i finish my answer. >> o? -- oh? >> i understand the point, issue number one i want to agree with chairman shays. the way to address the problems is senior leadership and with acquisition status meetings. we say they must improve the recording of past performance. >> mr. gordon before we talk about how we treat the problem so we agree there's a large problem that contractors who believe who should have been rated for bad performance on citing their contracts for experience. >> i don't have data and you know my g.o. background makes me reluctant to answer without data
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but if a company says we worked on contract a, b, c and we should get credit for that, the contracting officer before she or he gives credit, it's usually mandatory. the contracting officer needs to check with that government agency and say how was their performance? and the answer that isn't cpars is completely irrelevant. >> i understand. i think we agree that it's prevalent. and ms. shauket, i'm honored how you've taken these posts around the world that i don't even want to visit those countries and i'm impressed that you're working for us there. but i do want to ask about louis bergert. i notice there's a suspension and debarrment but it doesn't
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mention louis which for a.i.d. is sort of like discussing the titanic thinking without mentioning icebergs. the description that we got from mr. fiore of the systems -- the suspension of the debarrment systems says about administrative agreements and you have one with louis berger that this is entered -- agency can enter into administrative agreement, et cetera, et cetera when the contractor can demonstrate that notwithstanding the potential basis for suspension or debarrment, so forth and so on. my question is, did a.i.d. have a potential basis for suspension or debarrment of louis berger? >> well, thank you very much for the opportunity to address louis berger and the issues. i understand the outrage you must have behind your questions
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and i just want to assure you that i, too, share that outrage when i heard what louis berger had been doing for a period of years through the falsification of the cost rates. by the time i became aware of this -- and i will say, quite frankly, that our relationship with our inspector generals office due to timely information has been much improved since that time. however, by the time that i became aware of the issues, through the department of justice, when we met with louis berger, they had already taken substantial remedies -- >> could i incur to the particular question i was asking. >> yes, sir. >> which -- and i'm taking mr. fiore's language so it's not a question -- i think he knows what he's talking about here. that to enter an administrative agreement you would have had a potential basis for suspension or debarrment?
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did you in his words have a potential basis for suspension or debarrment of louis berger? >> in my opinion, no, not at that time. >> you entered into an administrative agreement without a initial suspension or debarrment is that what you're telling me. >> at the time we entered into the administrative agreement -- if you recall in the last panel, mr. amey said they would recommend suspensions if they had systems in place. prior to entering into that administrative agreement we did just that. we met with the internal controllers and the official -- >> i know. they fix things up later after the -- after the horses have left the barn they fixed the door up real well. is it the case that louis berger has a prospect of seeking literally billions of dollars in the years ahead in a.i.d. i cite is an example because we had a full discussion of this at
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a hearing that the northern and southern electoral grids of afghanistan will probably be an a.i.d. goal to link them up, and that the pieces that are being putting in place now in kabul and kandahar are with the idea of eventually linking them up and surely louis berger would be one of the ones seeking this. but wouldn't you expect they would be seeking literally billions of dollars of a.i.d. money? >> i cannot speak for what louis berger will be doing. but i can tell you that our policy is to compete programs and if they are exceeded, we will be looking at their past performance as part of the evaluation criteria. >> and the cpar system has a write-up of louis berger's activity? >> well, actually i'd like an opportunity, if i may to address the chart. ..
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isn't it the case that first kuwaiti was up to successfully go on and compete for state department business building embassies elsewhere without a cpars entry saying that they had poor performance? >> i don't know specifically if first kuwaiti enter understood cpars or knot, sir. -- not, sir. >> do you know whether they have gone on to show poor
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performance on later jobs they have done for state? >> i do not know that, sir. >> if you did a lexus search of first kuwaiti, it would jump out and sock you in the eye and my time has expired. >> thank you. mr. henke. >> mr. rindner, you have a career in acquisition, correct? >> yes, sir. >> how many years have you been working in acquisition? >> about 37. >> most of that time was it treasury or other agencies? >> at treasury, navy, the department of state. >> you've been at state now seven years? >> yes, sir. >> you're the senior procurement executive. is that a statutory title or regulatory title? >> i don't know if it is statutory or regulatory. cao is statutory. >> right. but you're the senior procurement executive. do you have, how many people are in your immediate office? >> about 22. >> do you have, i understand you do not have operational contracting under your purview? that is a separate office?
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in other words, you don't cut contracts? >> that's correct. >> your statement says you're responsible for workforce training, policy, oversight. i think you did some former acquisition assessments? >> yes, sir. >> okay+++รง]+ estimate. what is your figure? >> i don't have that figure, sir. >> you, i would have to look it up. >> you don't have a figure. >> i said i would have to
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look it up? >> you didn't bring it today? >> no, sir. >> i think -- >> could i ask the gentleman, can you explain why you wouldn't be prepared to answer that question, given, this is a hearing on this very issue ? >> i did knot look up the data, sir. >> are you answersing because it is not extremely low? >> i'm answering because i do not know the figure, sir. >> does someone in your office have it? >> i think the information would be available but it would have to be looked at. >> we'll be here another hour or so. would you have someone at your staff reach back to your office and get the hearing? >> the compliance rate in '08, 09, 2010. what percent of the reports are in the database? >> bob, could you yield for a second. >> yes. >> you're in charge of this effort, aren't you, at state? you're in charge of procurement at state? >> i'm in charge of procurement policy at state, yes he .
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>> isn't this kind of thing someone who is in charge ought to have on the tip their tongue? who is really in charge, if not you? >> [inaudible]. >> thank you. >> you have the time. >> could i get your reaction, mr. rindner, what i call the quantity chart? zero assessments done out of 93 contracts. those are just contingency contracts. that is our ball, that is our game here, iraq and afghanistan. we counted 93 actions from state in iraq and afghanistan but no reports, no assessment reports. what is your reaction to that? >> my reaction would be, if the information is correct, that we need to serious ily improve. >> is your gut say it is right or wrong? >> again i would have to look at the information, sir. >> okay. now if that is correct, or a
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little better, maybe half the reports. let's be generous, which would be a pretty high par ba -- bar, what would reaction be to the quality chart? as my co-chair explained, from reports that were done, these were ones done well. nobody really get as great grade here. everyone struggles with it. you see a lot of red and yellow on the chart. what is your reaction to the reports when they're done? >> my reaction to both quality and quantity improvements mead to be made. >> okay. your statement says, i was really left a little disappointment by your statement. there is not a lot of quality in it. generally good thoughts. the department of state continuously strives to improve contractor oversight. probably a true statement. i hope it is but it is very lackluster. you're saying in the process of tailoring the navy cpars manual to fit state. when would that be done? >> i would have to get that information from the operational officer. >> is it your responsibility?
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>> no. that is in the operational contracting officer. >> that's okay, would you get that for the record, please? yes? >> yes. >> okay. you say in your statement, the department uses past performance as an evaluation factor to select our contractors. and i take mr. gordon's point that the data may be out there, even if it is not in the system but the fact that it is in someone's drawer or desk, does it really mean it's out there? can you react to that statement? >> my experience is that the contracting officers will contact references and get information. >> they will contact references? >> yes. >> those are references provided by a contractor, right? >> correct. >> okay. let's talk about that. a contractor put as proposal in and they say, i have referenced, a, b, c, there you go. contractor's probably going to turn in good references. nobody would do otherwise,
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right, generally. so they're going to give you ones that are good. our recommendation 21 in the report, can you react to that. >> what is that recommendation, sir. >> have you read our report, mr. rindner? >> i've just seen an executive summary? >> i've seen an executive summary? >> have you read our report? >> i've seen an executive summary, sir. >> mr. rindner, i'm not, this is not a difficult question, have you read our report? >> i have read the executive summary, sir. >> our executive summary or a prepared by your staff? >> i believe it is your executive simry. >> so you read the executive summary in our report, i understand. our recommendation number 21 when a contractor provides references here is my example, a, b, and c they can only do that when those contracts are recorded in the database. we're required to assess contracts, right,
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mr. gordon? >> yes. >> law, regulation, and policy. we're required to put it into the database, right, mr. gordon? >> yes, sir. >> if we're required to do all that, what about the idea of using, making sure that only references that are in the database can be used mr. rindner? >> i would have to study it a little bit more, sir. >> can you give us, you've been procurement executive for seven years and you have 30-plus years, can you give us your reaction to right here? >> i think the information in the past performance database would be very valueable to have. i think any incentives to put that information into the past performance database would be good. i think you're switching the intent -- incentive to the contractor. >> right. >> i think we need the incentive on the government's part. >> what is the incentive on the government's part? we couldn't find one, frankly. we thought, let's bring another party. let's bring contractors. give them equity in putting past performance in the system. what about that. >> not sure how the
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contractor would leverage back to the government, sir. >> well, i guess that would be a problem if they're trying to get later awards, wouldn't it? that may get the government's interest and contractor's interest. just a couple more data points, mr. rindner. on issue of suspension debarment did you receive in 2009? >> 2009 i believe that was three, sir. >> you received three referrals? how many in 2010? >> i believe, i would have to get that information. 2010 i believe it was three. 2009, i'm not kite sure. >> you're not sure about 2009? so you don't, okay. you're the sole sdo? >> that's correct. >> so -- sco. >> that's correct. >> we heard from mr. blalock agencies that 16 scoes. you're the sole guy at state, 7.5 billion. how many referrals, how many
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s and d referrals did you get from the sig in 2009? >> i believe it was two, sir. >> you believe it was two. how many in 2010? 2010? two cases that resulted in several actions. >> okay. so two in 2009 and two in 2010? right? >> i guess i need to define referrals. >> a referral -- >> referral for specific incident that may involve more than one party. so in 2009 i believe it was one resulting in two
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actions. and in 2010 it was two resulting in, three, six actions. >> six actions. so you've got one referral and in '09 and 2010. in the past year, you suspended three entities, i'm assuming, this is your testimony. in 2010 you suspended three entities in afghanistan. is that an accurate number? i'm over time. i have to stop. >> correct. >> okay. thank you. >> thank you. dr. zakheim. you heard what my colleague professor tiefer asked about louie bergeer. how long has louie bergeer been working in afghanistan? >> i believe quite some
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time. >> i believe from the beginning. louie berger cut as deal with the government. as you said they did some pretty outrageous things, correct. >> yes, sir. >> let me add, i was just in afghanistan, afghani do you know who he is. >> yes. >> he is the former minister of finance who is also the top advisor to president karzai on the transition. he was once again outspoken about just one company, louie berger. and he has been publicly are and privately for years. at what point do you decide that louie berger is part of the problem in afghanistan and not part of the solution? well,. >> well, sir we have the administrative agreement in sfas, anyone looking at their past performance that
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is in there and we'll learn the terms of their previous wrongdoing. as far as it relates to their performance, i, am hesitant because i don't want my comments to appear in any way defending louie berger. clearly we have had problems with them in the past. i recognize that previously the karzai khost road had been identified where they receive ad fair rating. i'm aware on the program that over 18 people were killed and 35 were wounded on that program. it is a tough environment. in 2009 our mission in afghanistan really took a hard look what was happening on our programs and did an internal assessment and an assessment of our contractors. as a result of that we changed a lot of the way we do business. we brought in more engineers, moreover sight and we have also sat down and talked very sternly to our implementing partners about
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the problems that we have had. i believe the past performance record shows that both black and beach and louie berger taken these comments to heart and their most recent past performance reports indicate higher ratings. i believe they are addressing our concerns. >> okay, you've set up a new office, compliance and oversight? >> yes, sir. >> and you've got a whole list of things that it is going to do. could you give us a time table, when they're going to actually be up and running and doing the various things you've listed? >> well, i recently hired the director for that division and, as soon as he came on board, his first mandate was to conduct interviews because we had already gone ahead with the recruitment for other individuals. i believe we're bringing on three more in the middle of march. we hope to have the entire office staffed up by the beginning of april. >> okay, thank you. mr. gordon, you made in your
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verbal statement starting off this panel you said, you criticized the notion of one size fits all. you said there are alternative approaches. such as? >> thank you for the question, dr. zakheim. i had some concern when i looked at the recommendations you would be going down the row and asking us do you agree with this and do you not agree with that. i had concern it could be an approach that works in one environment, might not work in another. to give you one example, the certification requirement that you have in with respect to cpars, i had some concern that the certification requirement might not get where we need to go in terms of getting senior agency leadership. and i just wanted toing that -- to flag for the commission's consideration the possibility there may be alternative approaches. >> well again, give me one. how do you, if you're a
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senior official, you are, i have been, if senior official isn't flagged the senior official doesn't know. if senior official doesn't know he is not going to do anything and or she is not going to do anything. if they don't do anything the people down the chain will not do anything. so give me an alternative. >> we put in the january 21st memo a series of things that need to happen. a meeting with emb officials to see how they're doing. we want to be data driven. we want to see what is actually happening. we want to make the picture improve and the certification itself strikes me as something that might be useful but might not be the most effective way. >> fair enough. you're head of ofdp. omb says jump. agencies say how high. have you had a meeting yet with senior officials? how frequently will you have them and how will you measure if they're complying? >> yes, sir. we just finished a couple
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months ago first round of the session where we checked to see how they're doing. not only with respect to past performance but other areas the commission rightly flagged like dependence on contractors rebuilding acquisition workforce. we have them run through how they're doing against the criteria, to get a sense of whether they're making progress and if not, what they're going to do to address the problem. absolutely sir. >> did you get a report on that publicly? the. >> acstat summaries are not reported. i would like the get to the opportunity to get transparency and. >> since you're in charge you could decide they could be public, right? it is not classified? >> it is not classified, sir. it also goes back to the past performance information to pick one example. there is some back and forth. seems people are rightly divided whether it is useful for past performance information to be open to the public. >> that is only in the case of a specific contract or
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contractor. >> yes. >> if you're aggregating the numbers no reason why we can't getting a a gaat numbers. can i get your under tykesing that you will make the aggregate numbers public? >> you have my under staking we will look and see if we can get the ac stat summaries available because i think it will be helpful for how agencies are doing against all the goals we're pushing. >> one other point. you said there has been substantial change in the last couple years. certainly the chart for fiscal 09 doesn't show substantial change at least for the agencies that concern us in this hearing. has there been substantial in fiscal 10? do you have numbers that are more updated than the ones on that chart? >> i don't have updated numbers here, sir. we would be paper to get them for you. but i will tell you to give you one example i think should resonate with the commission's interim report, we are working with fai, to
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get training for the workforce, how to prepare these reports and do them well so we have both quantity and quality. with respect to suspension and debarment. there have been high-profile cases including by sba as well as colleagues on this table that i think have gotten people's attention. that there is a change in our attitude to contract management. >> mr. fiore, i was struck by the initial part of your statement. you had a very long paragraph about soldier, family legal services and you had a short sentence about your suspension and debarment role. what's the proportion of time you spend on those two different roles? how much time do you spend on the role that involved the big paragraph and how much time do you spend on the role that involved the short sentence? >> sir, i think it depends on any given week. >> give me a sense. you have a sense. >> my sense would be about 60-40. because i do not have the,
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the direct supervision responsibility for that office, i perform the suspension debarment portion of that responsibility as well as the soldier and family legal services. >> do you think it makes sense, i know my time has run out, for something as important as suspension and debarment not to have somebody focusing on it full time? >> i focus on it as as is required as the ajudicate tore -- adjudicatetor. the army always had been independent adjudicatetor for that role. the suspension debarment official serves serves as the super supervisor of the program office which has more time and other duties attendant to it. as time is required i devote as much time to it as needed? how big is your staff for this job? >> the army staff is five full-time attorneys in the program office. i do not have a staff. i essentially am the
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adjudicatetor. they prepare documents that i need to have. >> you're a one man operation 40% of the time? >> for that particular role. >> versus suspension and debarment which i think we all agree is very important. thank you. >> thank you. miss shauket, i said you could give an answer i would like it to be brief because it is own my time. i would like the answer. >> thank you very much. >> you're answering what question? >> i'm responding to the chart itself. >> okay. go for it. >> in preparation for this hearing we went into pprs. we were surprised we couldn't locate many past performance reports we knew had been done. we contacted the administrators and they realize there was a prime when the transfer took place. according to our records we have 24 reports that were done for 2009 in afghanistan. >> 24 out of? >> out of the 81. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> mr. gordon, i have to
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tell you, i really enjoyed your previous testimony. i like your testimony pause i think you're willing with to give clear testimony and say something that's important but i am troubled by the fact that you seem to be on two sides here you say the entry is bad, the quality is bad but in essence we look at past performance in spite of this. so, i need you to explain to me why do you we need the database if there is another way? and you know, give me your eloquent and short answer. >> very short, sir. the database which i will be much more complete if it is done properly. that is the short answer, sir. >> okay. >> we will be following up including a public report to show progress. >> let me give you three reasons why i think you need a database. it is transparent. fair to all parties government and contractors and good governance. would you agree with that. >> would agree with all
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three, sir. >> you don't like to call the past process informal but it is informal in one sense. it is not prescribed in law. you are not giving contractors the right information because it is not transparent. for first time i have sympathy for contractors. so like if we made it transparent they could respond. if we don't make it transparent they don't know what we're saying which i found really surprising. >> sir, it is transparent. it is actually and it is required by law. contractors have the right to respond to negative past performance guaranteed by law. >> how do they see it if it is not -- >> if adverse past performance information is going to be taken into contract in source selection and they have not yet had a chance to respond they are required by law and regulation. >> that's the law. is it happening? >> yes, sir. >> if they lose the contract, and it is because of adverse past performance information to which they have not had a chance to respond, they file a protest. they will win that protest if that is what made the
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difference. >> so your testimony under oath is that, you look at all past performance and contractors see all past performance and your testimony under oath it is very transparent? is that your testimony? >> sir, the current system is very, very flawed and incomplete. i did not testify that we look at all past performance information. we should and we do not yet do that. we need to do that. >> you started to give the impression with your emphatic statement. that's the reason why i just want to clarify. mr. blalock, i was pained beyond measure at your response to mr. green's question to you. it was, i've been around and on this side often and i was pained and i wanted to just be clear about the mdaa 09 was passed in '08 and, it required progress efforts to
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improve suspension debarment systems. you're supposed to report on that, how you're progressing. it is supposed to, member agencies, you are looking at what 50 member agencies are doing as it relates to that. and you're to recommend to omb changes to suspension debarment system and its rules. that's what you are the ifdc chairman, is that correct? >> that's correct, sir. >> that did what the law is. you you were using the term volunteers. i didn't know the government had volunteers. what a misnomer. these are government-paid employees that come together to assist in this effort but it is under your responsibility. i would have thought the answer to it was, it's my responsibility. i didn't give it the highest priority. i depended on other agencies and i didn't get them together the way i needed
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to. and that would have been the answer. i would have said, okay, everybody screws up but you tried to pass the buck on. i was looking at mr. gordon. maybe i'm unfair here, but mr. gordon, i would have been pained with that answer. i want to know were you satisfied with the answer you heard from mr. blalock? >> we do have a role at omb in the isdc and i think we need to work, i take it as a commitment we need to work to get that report in, sir. >> with mr. rind any's response and mr. blalock's response, did you get a sense that maybe you guys need to get together a little and work out responsibilities? because the sense i have is that neither mr. rindner or mr. blalock feel like it is their responsibility. and the question i'm asking is, is there been some helpful information here that will enable you to kind of sort this problem out for us? and i'll give you the analogy. when we had the hearing with dcaa and dcma, we realized we were ships passing in the night. that is what i feel is
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happening right here. do you have a sense some of this is occurring? >> are you asking me, sir. >> yes, sir. >> chairman shays, i will tell you i think the isdc provides a very valuable opportunity for us not to be ships passing in the night. i've been in the meetings. they were very valuable place to exchange information that is separate question whether we need to get that report in and the answer to that is, yes, we need to get that report into congress. >> the 09 report and 2010? >> yes, sir. >> both of them? yeah. do you understand, mr. gordon, why congress requested it? >> yes, sir. >> mr. blalock, do you understand why they requested you to do this? >> i do, sir. >> okay. >> i said i would yield back some of my time since i already used up more time when mr. , my co-chairman was asking questions. so we're going right to mr. green. >> thank you. >> okay.
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mr. zakheim asked you very briefly about the new compliance you established for compliance and oversight. what prompted that? and why did it take so long? >> well, what prompted it was the 2009 ig report which recommended it. prior to that it was other duties as assigned by my staff. we had requested additional staff and had not been able to receive the funding for that additional staff. so we were very thankful for the ig report to give management attention to this issue. we -- >> does it always take an ig report to get people to focus on important stuff? >> i would like to think not. and actually in our administrator, dr. shaw, he has really, his leadership has really helped this. we had --. >> what about previous leadership? >> they were not as focused on the disbarment,
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suspension compliance issues. dr. shaw has been. under his leadership what was pledging through the bureaucratic channels was expedited so we could staff up this office. >> okay. fine. a.i.d. in trips into theater, has always not covered themselves in glory with respect to oversight of contractors. and, complicating matters is the fact that, well, first of all, you have got a limited number of folks to get out, security is a problem, so forth. but, complicating matters is the fairly significant number of large subcontractors that are used. are there plans to measure their past performance? . .
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>> we do hold the contractors responsible as i'm sure you're aware. there's a section called other and what we're looking at when we're going to be establishing our new policy is that we use that other section for specifically our larger subcontractors. we're also looking the number of two years within our contracts. we have an initiative going on right now called a3.
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it's a accountability in our assistance for afghanistan it's in draft right now. it's going to be recommending that we limit the number of tiers we have on our contracts so that we can perform better oversight. >> okay. >> i would also like to say there's a new monitoring and evaluation policy which i hope will facilitate that. >> are there contractors trigger? >> in -- -- too big to fail. >> in my opinion. >> in the past year '07 '09 hundreds of contractors have found to have committed fraud with regard to dod contracts. it didn't affect dod's contracting behavior, however, during the same period, three-year period dod awarded almost $300 billion to
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contractors to these same companies. despite this, dod stated in a report to congress in january, 2011 that, quote, believes that existing remedies with respect to contractor wrongdoing are sufficient. i don't follow that. >> i need to be careful, commissioner green. i think the report that you're referencing has not been submitted by the department of defense. and there has not yet been a final department position issued. if, in fact, you're referring to the report that was posted on senator sanders' website. is that the report you're referring to? >> yeah, yes. well, if that language is being considered, somebody ought to look at it pretty carefully. >> yes, sir. i would agree. absolutely. >> okay. thank you. my time is up. >> thank you, mr. green.
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mr. tiefer? >> thank you, mr. green. we found -- we were struck by the figure of $280 billion that have gone to contractors with fraud judgments or settlements. so i want to ask a little bit about that. >> can we clarify that's just the -- >> but again, i believe that the number you're reference again is a report that's not finished by the department. that we continue in discussions with both justice and treasury to determine whether the numbers are accurate in how they are portrayed. so i'm very uncomfortable -- >> i won't ask you -- you don't like the question that follows,
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just stop the question. what i think -- i did see the comment where judgments or settlements of a million dollars or higher. and i just want to make the contest whatever. i want to make the commonsense observation but i do want to know, that the way one gets up to very good figures is that there's not tens of thousands of convicted little contractors. but that the figure gets high because there's a relatively smaller number of big contractors who get such contracts? >> so the figure can become large if you look at the figure for a three-year period of time in the numerator and then put -- i'm sorry. i said that incorrectly. if the figure can become very large if i look at the entire three-year period and the suspension of that particular company or the subsidiary of a particular company was for a one-week, a two-week, maybe a one-year period so that the --
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>> i'm with you. >> i just -- >> what i want to ask you -- we've been discussing i mentioned them to the first panel as the flagrant 5 some big contractors today. louis berger which pled to felony left fraud, kbr on subcontractors. agility which has actually been suspended but it's getting exceptions. and i want to know because we've asked this often. isn't the reason that we have the contractors who are swelling this figure up to very high levels -- that these are contractors who are not only big but they are what we call in theater, in wartime too big to fail. that the government is too dependent to want to do to keep them -- keep them going. keep them playing with us, give some we'll have more chances to play with us, yes?
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>> i would agree with ms. shauket, i don't believe there's any contractor that's too big to fail and we'll find alternatives to replace them if need be. there are certainly situations where if the contractor is currently performing and i need to continuing that service for the war-fighter, i may be forced to use them until i can run in other competition and put one in place. i'm uncomfortable with the concept that the numbers are only from the large contractors. i have not personally seen the actual data -- >> could you supply for the record some reason if you come to some reason that you think we got to $280 billion without -- that the -- it's such that we've gotten there by thousands of little contractors. >> well, sir, if i may, what i will commit to, when we submit the report and it's signed out that day, we will submit it to
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the commission. >> mr. gordon, you said, and i wouldn't change a word of it, that suspension is, quote, one of the government's most powerful tools, quote-unquote. and i agree with you. i don't think it's unreasonable with me to agree on that point. when you see what was done with louis berger, the use of a deferred prosecution agreement and an administrative agreement so as not to -- not to suspend, aren't we seeing the rise of a new way that we will not be using one of the government's biggest tools. and i'll put it to you this way. i haven't seen much in theater of this kind of deferred prosecution and administrative deferment thing. we've not seen it. i believe there have been many of them in the foreign corrupt practices act area but not
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contracting in theater. will we see more of these since it seems very advantageous to the contractor? >> professor tiefer, i'm not in a position to predict what's going to be happening in the contingency environment. i certainly believe that suspension and debarrment are tools which we need to be somewhat more willing to use than we have in the past. i will tell you that i have concern when i hear people talk about automatic suspension or automatic proposal for debarrment. and i should say that i think mr. blaylock has helped in the isdc in strengthening exchange of views about these practices across the agencies. >> you don't -- you're unwilling to say that there will be more use of this? there hasn't been use of it in the past and i saw you nodding but that didn't go in the record. am i right there hasn't been use in theater contracting of this approach in the past?
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>> yeah, i didn't want to mislead by any nodding i did. i was understanding what you were saying. i'm not aware of the statistics in theater nor can i predict the theater there. >> thank you, my time has more than expired. >> mr. henning? -- hen, which >> pogo has attempted the isdc and they haven't back from you. mr. blalock will you commit to talking by pogo and mr. amey by the end of the day? >> i will. >> other duties that were assigned and that was one of the fixes implemented, okay, we got a problem let's put some resources people on it full time and have them do it. now, mr. blalock -- your organization has been around and i assume you as well from at least since 1986. >> right. >> 50 agencies. and do you have any full-time staff on isdc? >> no, sir. >> so you all do it
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out-of-pocket, the duties as assigned in addition to your day job? >> that is correct, sir. >> would you, mr. blalock, and mr. gordon, take on for us -- would you commit to looking at the idea of some small number of permanent staff on the isdc to staff it up? i'm not talking about more than a handful of people to run the thing administratively and support the members of the isdc. will you look at that and give us your response in 30 days? >> sir, i'm happy to look into it. we are, as you know, in a very difficult environment. i was somewhat concerned that mr. blalock was being heavily criticized. he's put a lot of effort into the isdc but, yes, i will be happy to get you an answer within 30 days. >> because -- i mean, we're talking about five action 600 billion a year in procurement. i think we could find some resources to staff up final for the isdc. that's just my opening suggestion. my third question is, would you, mr. blalock, and mr. gordon -- would you commit to submitting that required report for 2009 and 2010 by march 31st of 2011?
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i will commit to that. >> okay. thank you. ms. shauket, the idea of -- if i understand right, you're funded, your office, the procurement function cost analyst are funded out of what they call the operating expenses report, operating side. >> hoax -- okay. looks at the overhead accounts, the operating accounts. what is an idea out there to remedy that situation? what i'm saying is you probably have a hard time hiring a cost and price analyst at the same time you're putting out billion dollar contracts to do things. what's an idea to solve that? >> well, that's correct. in the past our operating expense funds have not kept pace with the proportional increase
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in our program funds which has risen 45 minutes since i took over as the chief acquisition officer. to the qddr process and usaid forward we're looking on the establishment of working capital fund that will basically receive 1% of the program funds to administer proper oversight of our programs. >> just a 1% on top of all the -- on top of what's groan by 45% program money to do for an assistance programs you would take 1% and it would be scalable. >> that's correct. >> as the program gross oversight has to grow and they have to keep pace with it. >> exactly. we're currently about the same number of staff that we had in the late '90s, despite the increase. so this would be a way of tying that -- >> is that right? >> so we would have real time -- >> i don't know why i'm -- we've all seen the graphs of procurement spending going up
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and acquisition work force going down and mr. gordon to his credit has taken it on very significantly. your challenge is how do i pay for it. >> yes. >> i think you've acting good idea. >> oh, thank you. and i would also like to thank mr. gordon for the acquisition work force initiative which actually funded our compliance division so thank you. >> okay. is that -- that's not section 852. that's dod money; right? >> 852 is dod money. >> okay. any updates on numbers and compliance for me? >> what we have 24 entered in 2009, '6 and 2010. >> 24 -- you're talking past performance? 24%? >> 24 entries. >> in 2009? >> correct. >> how many contract actions? >> i don't have that information. we can get that.
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>> 24 entries in 2009 in all of the performance reporting database? >> correct. >> not just iraq and afghanistan; right? that's total? >> that's correct. >> okay. >> 24 entries in '09 and 6 in 2010, right? that's the data you have now? >> correct. >> and you're a $17.6 billion operation? roughly how many contract actions did you do in 2009, just roughly? >> i don't have that figure off the top of my head. it would be thousands. >> thousands of them. okay. what about the suspension debarrment side. you said you had one referral? in '09 and you took two actions. what were they? >> in 2009, we had a debarrment of a contractor in venezuela. >> and -- you said there were two actions. >> there's two actions, two
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parties involved in that transaction. >> okay. so you got 1 referral in '09 which resulted in one debarrment? >> bhab 2010. >> we had two suspensions and a debarrment that resulted from a referral. >> okay. thank you. >> mr. ridner in your testimony you gave some percentages that ofpp came up with regarding various narratives. it looks like less than half of the entries affected quality. there was insufficient narratives for schedule control in more than 60% of the entries. there were -- you gave sufficient but i'm giving you the insufficient.
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insufficient narratives for cost control in more than 70% of the entries and insufficient for business relations again in more than 50% of the entries. at least you admit and i'm quoting here it is clear we must improve our documentation. no kidding. and then you list a bunch of things you're going to do. so i'd like to know when exactly will you start reviewing past performance evaluations? you said you're going to do it. when? >> we're going to be scheduling a special topics review to look at the impediments to reporting into the past performance database. >> and when is that going to happen? >> that's going to be kicked off in may, sir. >> and how long will it take? >> i would estimate three months. >> okay. you're going to -- you also say you look forward to using civilian agency tracking tool based on that developed by dod. when are you going to start using that? >> my understanding is that tool will be available in april, sir. >> okay. and, finally, you say you find
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it beneficial to solicit references on similar programs. how often do you solicit similar references and what do you mean by beneficial in this case? >> i don't have a statistic, sir, but that's what mr. gordon was referring to about we get a reference on a particular solicitation and the contracting officer follows up with that reference. i'd like to know how often you've done it, go outside the cpars with other references. is it 10% time, 190% of the time. you could give if you could give that to me for the record, please >> i don't know how to get that particular statistic, sir. >> well, how do you know it's beneficial? you're making an assertion that it's beneficial but you don't even know how often it's being done. well, you're in charge. tell me. don't stare at me, please >> i don't know how often it's being done, sir. >> so how do you know it's beneficial?
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>> i know that it's beneficial for the contracting officer to get information on past performance. >> based on what? based on what the contracting officers tell you? >> based on the feedback i get from the operational office, yes, sir. >> but again, how often is that? >> i don't know, sir. >> okay. i think my point has been made. admiral ginman, on page 7 of your testimony, you say the commitment to counterinsurgency contracting leads to a more moderate approach. what do you mean by a moderate approach? >> in particular i'll start with -- it will work in either iraq or afghanistan. but when i'm attempting to develop industries within afghanistan and i am looking at past performance with a company that is being developed, i may not expect their past performance to be as great as i would like and can i work with them so that i can develop that company or develop that particular industry within afghanistan to create the jobs in the theater so it's a
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recognition that could i perhaps buy clothing outside of afghanistan? yes, i could. do i want to do that? it meets an objective to develop that capability inside the theater to create the jobs. >> okay. fair enough. so this is part of afghan first? >> yes, sir. >> have those standards have been set yet? >> have the -- >> in other words, you're buying afghans now. you say there has to be a more moderate approach. well, the approach involves setting some sort of standards or some new methodology. have you set it yet? in other words -- >> no, no, sir. i think i understand the question. i do not know the answer to that that question. >> could you please let me know? >> yes i will. >> how much money are you spending on afghan first type of contracts? you don't know that either? >> i don't know the amount on afghan first off the top of my head. >> see, i think our taxpayers would really like to know that. they'd like to know that and
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they'd also like to know exactly how you set >> about what i need to do to create those jobs and responsibilities in kandahar, then i will do it there. >> regardless of standards? >> i need to be able to meet whatever the threshold
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requirement is for the specification and i need to work with the company to ensure that they can meet that specification. >> are those guidelines written out? >> well, the requirement is laid out in each individual contract for, this is what the clothing needs to meet. this is what the boot needs to meet. this is what the concrete -- whatever the product is that we're buying, at last specification that we expect to be met. >> of course. >> and then working with the company to meet it. >> that's the part i'm asking you about. working with the company because presumably if past performance isn't what you want it to be but you want to work with the company, have you laid out rules so that people know how to work with the company? you're trying to do something different, fine. you say you're doing it different. are there some rules? >> does everybody do it?
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>> yeah. >> you can -- >> i'll take it for the record. i'm struggling a little bit how we develop the company, mer >> well, but you're the one that mentioned it, not me. >> well, you're asking for a standard. >> yeah. >> so i'm trying to -- >> there must be some minimal standard. >> i'm trying to think through when i went to business school i trained there was some level of standard in the united states that this is what you've got to do when you work with a company -- >> will you get back with me with an? >> i will get back with an answer. >> sometimes when a hearing is over how fair is it to be talking to you folks on that side. you all are dedicated government employees. i want to put that on the record. and mr. blalock, i've been the toughest on you, but thank you for your service. what sometimes happens in a hearing, though, things come up that just illustrate that this is not a priority yet. and for you, mr. blalock, you
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are u.s. navy counsel. that's your job. you've been given, i think, incredible opportunity to chair the interagency suspension committee. i view it as significant because you, mr. gordon, have pointed out $500 billion. so, you know, we're talking about a half a trillion dollars. what a hell of an opportunity. so i'm struck with, if you can't draw on the people in your office and the other folks who who come together for this interagency can't draw on their people, you need to request people. i need to know, have you ever requested full-time staff for this responsibility? >> i have not. >> okay. >> there was a full-time staff member for the prior chair. >> let me tell you, i get the gist. the bottom line you can't do your job because it hasn't been
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done in '09 and '10 so it would seem logical to me that you would at the very least request this because it is important. as i think mr. gordon and all of you realize. and i think that's mr. mr. henke was coming in and at least let people know because it's such a huge issue. i want to read the recommendations that we've made. i want you to tell me which one you agree with the most. i'm going to ask each of you and which one you agree with the least. and so i'll read them. recommendation 20 allow contractors to respond to but not appeal agency performance assessments. that could take a year. align past performance assessment with contractor proposals. 22 require agencies certify use of the past performance database. 23, require a written rationale for not pursuing a proposed suspension or debarrment. increase use of suspensions and debarrments and 25, recommendation 25, revise
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regulations to lower procedural barriers to continue in suspension and debarrment. now, if one or two you don't precisely understand then just put that as a neutral. of the ones you heard and you understand, which do you agree which the most and which do you agree the least 'cause this conversation is going to continue. mr. gordon? >> i'll be very brief. >> people say when they're very brief, they aren't. >> i promise you this time. 20 would be the one i agree with. >> allow contractors to respond to but not appeal. >> i was trying to be brief. [laughter] >> and 24 with the reference to automatic suspension, i'm most concerned about. >> okay. thank you, mr. chairman. >> i'm sorry. i think the one that bothers me the most -- >> start with the positive. >> start -- well, start with the positive. allow contractors to respond and not appeal to agencies. >> i would assume you like them
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all and you had trouble figuring out -- >> no, no, i was struggling which one did i like best. >> okay. now, which one is obviously you don't like as much? >> 21, i'm not as good at suspension and debarrments since i don't deal with it day in and day out but just with past performance. the one that bothers me the most is the past performance. because our performance is abysm abysmal, the ability to go get additional data and go to the program managers and go to the -- >> i get the gist. >> from my standpoint is very problematic. >> mr. ridner? >> i would say i like most -- the idea of the contractors being able to respond to past performance but not dispute it. >> right. >> and the certification -- the contractors' inability to use past performance that's not in
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the database. again, i think we need more responsibility on the side of the government and i don't know -- >> let me get a response to that. >> sorry, sir? >> the bottom line is, right now we need the government to start to put this in and right now there's no incentive for the contractor to do it because they just assume put their documents in without having anything else. >> okay. >> so it seems to me what we're doing is we're going to have the contractors nag you. that's the reason. >> okay. >> i agree with my colleagues. with recommendation 20. i think that's a great idea. i'm torn in choosing my second between 21 and 23. >> okay. >> and i would welcome a real detailed conversation. >> which one do you like? >> i'm torn between 21 and 23, which ones i dislike. >> required written rationale for not pursuing a proposed suspension or debarrment. you don't think that makes sense. >> do think it makes sense if it's a recommendation from the inspector general's office. but we've also been encouraged to look outside just of the i.t.
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referrals. . >> yes, ma'am. >> and i would like to comment on 21. >> i agree with the recommendation but only if we fix both of these first. because if we don't, everyone will be getting a neutral rating and that's not in anyone's best interest. >> fair enough. mr. blalock? >> i hope it's a no-brainer that the chair of the isdc would agree most strongly with the increased use of suspension debarrment recommendations. with respect to disagree, it's a toss up for me between 21 and 24. i'm strongly opposed to automatic exclusions because i believe the sdo needs to have the discretion to judge each case on its own facts and circumstances. i also don't think that the recommendation for a written rationale for deck clanation in my view that is a solution looking for a problem. i do not think there is a problem with major declarations. >> thank you, mr. fiore?
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>> sir, i defer to ofpp and dod on the past performance issues. that's outside of my purview. on the suspension and debarrment issues, i have real concern with lowering the standards in the contingency operation. we haven't had any trouble applying the current standards in afghanistan and iraq. >> i'll let you start with the telling first. what's the positive? >> i really don't have a positive one in suspension and debarrment because i think that the army has already increased its use of suspension and debarrment. i don't have a problem with written record of why suspension and debarrment action isn't taken. depending on how you define a referral, some agencies get a complete packet referred to them and they want feedback. in the army all we get often is a very slim investigative report and we do all the work at the headquarters level and it isn't referred until the very end and then there is a record already. >> gotcha. thank you. thank you all.
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we will start with you mr. fiore and we'll go down the line that way any closing comments that you would like to make without comment from us? >> i appreciate the opportunity to be here. and i appreciate the oversight and the transparency you're giving to the suspension of the debarrment process by having these hearings. >> thank you. >> i apologize to the commission if my explanation for the delay in filing the reports was taken is an excuse. i'm trying to explain a few facts of life with respect to life in the government now. i have committed and i will get the combined fiscal year '09, fiscal year '10 report by the end of march. >> thank you, sir, very much. >> i'd like to thank the commission for their report and i would welcome a detailed discussion about each of your recommendations so we can be sure that we can implement them. it's clear that for past performance we all need to do
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better. and we need to all work together to enhance the systems. we've got a good start there. but i would like make a plea since this is contingency contracting. it's very difficult for our contracting officers in afghanistan and iraq to currently take the training because it's only during business hours in washington, d.c. so i'd like that to be expanded. i think that would help a long way in training. thank you. >> thank you. mr. ridner? >> okay. i appreciate the opportunity to appear before the commission. i appreciate your work. and i look forward to department of state improving on past performance reporting. >> thank you, sir. >> i have a great friend named gillman. >> it rhymes with martini. thank you for the opportunity to be here today. what it is that we're doing in iraq and afghanistan and the troops in support of the troops is important. ensuring that we get contractors that, in fact, have a solid
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record of past performance is important. as these two charts so clearly articulate, we have not done that well yet. and you have a commitment from the department, from the leadership perspective to work to ensure that we improve the statistics on both of these charts. >> mr. chairman -- >> i also want to thank you for the opportunity to be here. i would urge the commission as you're finalizing your report and thinking about past performances, suspension and debarrment to keep them in the context of the overall report which is very much resonant without priorities in the administration, strengthen the acquisition work force, demonstrate fiscal responsibility. rebalance our relationship with contractors so contracting is not a default option and when we do this to contractors, the federal government maintains control of those contractors and does contract management. thank you. >> thank you, mr. god, you probably would have been brief and it would have been the first
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time and so at least now i don't have to revise my view. i would say thank you for your service. i would also say we have found the administration incredibly cooperative. and mr. gordon, we realize up here it's not a partisan issue. and it's not one from the commission working with administration or with congress. so kind of we're all in this together. thank you for allowing us to expose what we think can be helpful and we realize that it's easier to expose than to solve and we want to be part of the solving as well. so thank you very much. and this hearing is ended. thanks, grant. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> both the house and the senate are returning from the president's day break today. current federal spending expires friday so the house and senate have to reach an agreement to avoid a government shutdown.
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tomorrow, the house plans to take up a temporary two-week spending proposal. that would cut $4 billion from the budget. also this week, surface transportation authorization and a small business tax provision related to the new health care law. you can see live house coverage at 2:00 pm eastern on c-span. >> i'm excited to what happens to society when it gets boring. >> the effects of the internet on society. where the future may take us. >> it's not a moment when a shiny new tool in the hands of a 15-year-old when it changes a world. it's when your mom takes it for
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granted that she can make a video and submit it on youtube. >> tonight on the communicators on c-span2. >> now, former minnesota governor tim pawlenty, jobs, global competition and the importance of a high quality education. from the inaugural conference of the hispanic leadership network in florida, this is just under 25 minutes. >> as all of us have a chance to talk about the future leadership of our country and we think about names like the new governor of nevada, brian sandoval and we think about marco rubio and we think of suzanna martinez and nikki haley and bobby jindal let's make sure we always add to the list the great governor of puerto rico, a transformative leader for our country, lewis fortunio. [applause] >> down in florida, of course, a lot of people from my state go on vacation to florida and spend part of the year here in the
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winter. and we want to make sure we keep as many of them in minnesota but we're glad that we have that connection with minnesota and florida. but i want to share with you another vacation story. it's a true story of me and my family going to the wisconsin dells some years ago. i had two daughters that were quite young back then and now they are teenagers and we went over to the wisconsin dells and we were driving back to minneapolis in a very hot summer day in early august. the temperatures were through the roof. the humidity was high and, of course, with two young kids in the backseat, you know how these car rides go. about an hour into the trip, they were throwing juice boxes at each other and pulling each other's hair and jabbing each other in the ribs and pretty soon the tempers in the car were matching the temperatures outside. and there's a little bickering going on in our family and so i pulled the car over into a gas station. and i got out and was pumping some gas into my car, kind of grinding my teeth oh, these misbehaving kids, my goodness i
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can't believe they're doing this. and this gentleman was pumping gas right next to me and he was kind of looking at me and looking at my family. i think he could sense the tension in our family. and then he looked at me and he said, oh, i wish i had two kids. i thought, oh, pawlenty you jerk. you have these cherubs, these gifts from god and you should be so grateful that i have these children, of course, i was and i felt kind of sorry for him and i said, well, i'm sorry, sir, you don't have kids? and he said, no, i got five kids. i wish i had two kids. [laughter] >> a little story about putting things in context and i share that with you as an opener today because as a country, as a people you deal and see and hear some discouragement around our country and you hear people wondering out loud even though they know and believe that this is the greatest and freest and most prosperous nation in the
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history of the world, there's a group of our fellow citizens who are wondering, something's off. you know, yes, there's this challenge. even though that they know america is this great country, they're concerned about whether the american dream and the american promise may be slipping away. and so i want to talk to you today about restoring the american dream by restoring american which is and so we know what made this nation great. we know the ingredients of why we are the freest and most prosperous and successful country the world has ever known. but we need to make sure that we understand those principles and then apply them to the challenges and opportunities of our time. and i won't go through them all but i want to highlight a couple of them for you today in the time that i have. and the first is this.
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if you go around florida or minnesota or any other part of this country and you ask people, what matters most to you? what brings you the most joy? what are you most focused on? you'll first hear answers relating to people's faith, of course, and then you'll hear answers relating to their family. and then they'll describe to you a series of other activities that are important to them. some just very basic and the life and necessities, you know, i'm worried about getting my health insurance premiums paid or having health insurance at all or i'm worried about whether i can get my kids to college and pay for it and get them to complete or others may worried about getting access to transportation and others may be worried about if they're going to be able to have some of the recreational activities or civic or charitable activities that they like to do in life and on down the list. after those first few, it's different for different people but if you look at that list, you'll see that most of them
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involve something. most of them involve the need to have money. and for most of our fellow citizens, the main way that they get money is to have a job. and so life becomes pretty tough here and anywhere else. if you don't have a job. and so we need to focus as a nation on those things that we know will make it more likely not less likely that jobs are going to grow in our city, our county, our region, our state, and our nation. and the answer to that question, what are those things that we can do to make it more likely not less likely does not reside with the politicians many of whom have not created a job or actually worked in the private sector. it resides with the entrepreneurs, the dreamers, it is designers, the risk takers, innovators, the inventors, the collaborators the ones who see a different future. the ones who are willing to take a risk. the ones who are willing to try
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something new. the ones who are willing to deploy capital, add employees, build buildings, by equipment, commercialize, conduct research and to do all the things it takes not a government economy but a private sector economy in this nation. [applause] >> and when you ask them, they'll say a number of things but they'll say two towards the top of the list that i want to talk about today. and the first one is they'll say, governor, or legislator or member of congress, you must make the load lighter, not heavier as it relates to the cost of growing jobs in this city, in this county, in this region, in this state, in this nation. and there's a list of things that add up to the cost of adding jobs in an area like that.
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the list includes, of course, taxes. it includes litigation costs. it includes energy costs. it includes workers' comp and unemployment insurance costs. it includes the cost of permitting and the time and expense related to how long it takes and how much it costs to get the government to give you permission to do certain things and others but when you add it all up, it adds up to the cost of growing jobs in a state or in a country. and the debates of it needs to be right on left versus on an issue. we can put it up on a dashboard and compare ourselves numerically on business tax rates, on individual tax rates objects energy rates. how do we compare? it's the hypercompetitive, global economy. if we're too high on those measurements and we are they need to be reduced. they need to be reduced in a prioritized and strategic way.
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so this rhetoric, the speeches, the policies around how we can be more projobs sometimes gets criticized by people saying well, you're just probusiness. as we say in minnesota particularly in rural parts of our state, you can't be projobs and antibusiness. [applause] >> that's like being -- [applause] >> that would be like being proegg and antichicken. it doesn't work. and one measure of how much the economy and how much of the american spirit, how much of the american dream the government wants to come in and take over and stifle and discourage. and so every time the government comes in and says to an individual, you know, we're going to take over the
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responsibility that used to be with you or they come in and say to a family, you know, don't worry about the family perspective on this. we'll take it over. we'll do it or they push into an area that used to be referred for charity or nonprofits or community or neighborhood and they say, we'll do it now as government or they come to an entrepreneur or the private markets and they say, oh, don't worry about taking risk or planning for the future, envisioning a different dream because we'll take care of it as the government -- every time the brewer crats do that, every time the government does that, they not only push out and crowd out those activities. they do something else more corrosive. they begin to discourage and stifle the american spirit. what differentiates us and the most of the world it isn't that we're bigger in the number of demographics or the number of people we have. we're competing against places
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that are 3 and 4 or 5 times larger in population. what differentiates us from the rest of the world is not that we're the cheapest. we're not. we need to be more competitive but it's going to be really hard strategically to just undercut price points of some of the other places around the world for obvious reasons. so you might ask, well, if we're not the biggest and we're not the cheapest, then what's going to be our comparative advantage? what is going to keep the united states of america the greatest nation on the face of the earth including makecally? -- economically. well, if we're not the biggest and we're not the cheapest, then we better be the smartest. we need to make sure that this is a nation that has the world's leading talent as it relates to skill and education and inventiveness and innovativeness and entrepreneurial perspective and creativity and artistry and all the things it takes to have
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an economy take that next step forward. and it is a competition. which leads me to my next point. and that is the importance in this nation of getting everybody or at least as many as absolutely possible an education or a skill that's relevant to the economy of today and tomorrow. if you think about our country, i grew up in a meat packing town. my dad for most of his life was a truck driver. my mom for much of her life was homemaker. i'm 1 of 5 kids in my family. my mom died when i was 16 years old. my dad lost his job not too many years after that for a while. and when you're in your teens and your mom dies and your dad's unemployed and your family doesn't have a lot of resources, you start to wonder about what's
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your future. you start to wonder what is my pathway out of this difficult circumstance and life for me pretty early on gave me some pretty harsh choices to make. and when my mom was dying, she died of cancer from diagnosis to death. it was just six months. but she gathered my brothers and sisters who are older around her bedside just a few days before she died. and she said, make sure he gets to college. make sure he gets to college. and so none of my brothers and sisters could go. it's not because they weren't capable. it's because they didn't have the opportunity. i was the only one in my family who was able to go to college and complete it. and for reasons of god's blessing or my brothers and sisters love or my family's encouragement and focus, i was able to get on a pathway of understanding that education was my ticket out, was my ticket towards stability. that was my ticket to america's
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promise. it was my ticket to america's dream. and it was a lot of hard work and a lot of loving people pulled alongside and helped along the way including a guy who sight unseen gave me a job so i could cut vegetables and wrap produce for seven years to help put myself through college. i share that story with you not because i'm seeking your empathy but i think it is the american story. it is the story of saying each one of us with a little help and the right approach can make it. but a few years ago "time" magazine wrote an article that had on its cover, america, the dropout nation. and the point of the story was that one-third of our fellow citizens are dropping out of high school. and the people who are dropping out are disproportionately our fellow citizens who come from areas of concentration socioeconomic disadvantage. and in my mom or dad's
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generation, in that meat packing town, certainly in my grandma and my grandpa generation if you missed on the rung you were disadvantaged. you were disrespected. you were disconnected. you were disenfranchised. you were "dis" whatever. as long as you weren't disabled you could get what my dad called the strong back job, you could cut meat, you could load and unload thing and you could do some things other than in the meat packing plants or the stockyards and related things and you weren't leah but you can't get by and maybe even with the benefit package that would allow to you support support a family with some level of dignity and hope and opportunity and stability. and now you know that those kinds of jobs with those kinds of pay and benefits aren't very available anymore, for those who
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lack a skill or an education. there's still some around but not many. and so if you don't of that safety net in our country of those kinds of jobs, it is an imperative that we get more and more and more of our people more highly skilled and more highly educated and it's an urgent issue. so what to do about that? we have a country now -- if you don't have that kind of education you get marginalized. and once you get marginalized economically, then the call comes for help, understandably and it takes the form by some as saying, you know, more government housing, more government transportation, more government health care, more government everything. the need grows and the ability of government to it meet it and whether even you should meet it fully in that -- in terms of how to do it is a mismatch and, of course, the demands grow, the ability to meet it is not complete and you have a vicious cycle as the demands for more government grow and the
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resources are not there. and the approaches are a matter of great political debate. it is not strategically possible for our country to succeed with one-third of the people in the country relatively uneducated, unskilled, and being able to access the economy of tomorrow and being ticked off. it's not going to work morally. it's not going to work socially. it's not going to work economically. it's not going to work strategically. and it is the civil rights issue of our time. and in the way of the reforms that need to take place, are powerful interest groups. we know what works in education. we know that the number one determining factor of how a child is going to do in school is the directing of engagement and involvement of their parents in that child's education and in their lives more broadly. we can't legislate that very well but we can do the next thing, which is the second most important determining factor of how a child is going to do in school is the quality and
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preparedness and effectiveness of their teachers. and there's an entire agenda around how we better recruit and equip teachers to come into the teaching profession. how we do a better job and hold them to a more rigorous standard of preparation in the colleges of education. how we have minimal standards about how before we let them out of the colleges of education and go teach, that they have to meet some minimum standards. that before they can teach they actually have to demonstrate subject matter mastery, not just some awareness of teaching methodology. as they go into the profession that we actually have rigorous and accountable professional development standards and expectations for results and that we help them if those results aren't achieved and if they can't achieve them, then they have to find a different career opportunity. those are commonsense principles that we know will work and the studies and the research back it up. so it's not a question of what needs to be done.
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the question is do we have the will to do it? and it's a political question. what stands between what i've just described and it happening and other things happening in school reform and improvement, our interests of organizations that represent adults which have other agendas in putting at the expense the future of our country strategically in the social and economic and moral imperative of taking the best care possible for the education of our children. so we need all of you together in this room to please join the cause of making florida, making minnesota, making america a more job-friendly place not because we're probusiness. but because we're proquality of life, improving the quality of life and opportunity for our fellow citizens. and we also need to make sure that we all join the cause of
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educational improvement in this country not because we like to criticize certain organizations but because it is a moral and economic imperative for our nation. if you've seen the movie "waiting for superman." it's a powerful movie and it calls out these questions in powerful terms. but as the movie unfolded across the country, while we were waiting for superman, we had superwoman in washington, d.c., one of the most prolific voices of education reform in the country, michelle rhee, a democrat because, who was speaking truth to power. who called out these issues in very clear and compelling tones, and she was essentially thrown out by the political system in washington, d.c., one of the worst performing highest funding school districts in the united states of america which now for decades has had incredible levels of funding and the most decrepit educational results in
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the country. courageous truth-telling people need to stand up and confront this issue. and i ask for your help with that here and across the country. and your governor here, the legislature here is poised to lead the way in florida in these coming months and then lastly i want to say none of this is easy. there's lots of other issues we didn't discuss including the immigration issue. as to the immigration issue i will say this, we need to start the discussion with the notion that the rule of law is a cornerstone tenant for our nation. and so we can't have wide swaths of the country nodding or winking or looking the other way as to broad violations of the law. and so it's not just a matter of enforcement. it's a matter of making sure that we maintain a respect for the law because if that goes out the window in whole or degree it causes all sorts of other corrosive impacts in terms of people's respect for the law so
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we have to conform the behavior to the law or the law to the behavior; otherwise, it begins to and continues to undermine that tenet in our country. and the system we currently have is currently broke. we celebrate and welcome immigration. it brings dynamic and entrepreneurial ideas and energy and people and talent to your country but the seem needs to be legal and reasonable and orderly and that's not what we have now. so we can have a good debate, a reasonable debate about how to fix it, how to make it better. but it needs to start with the notion that the law and the behavior need to be in alignment. and we don't of that now and it leads to lots of misstatements and corrosive effects in the discussion. so i look forward to being one of the voices to come to the table and say how can we make changes in a way that will improve the strategic objectives of the country and do it in a fair and economic growth and helpful way for the country as
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well? i'm running out of time. i'm out of time but i just want to close and say none of this is easy but this country has always confronted things that are challenging and overcome them and found a better way forward. if freedom were easy, everybody around the world would be free. and if security were easy, everybody around the world would be secure. and if prosperity were easy, everybody around the world would be prosperous but they're not. because it takes hard work and courageous people to stand up and tell the truth to get organized and lead forward in a hopeful, positive, optimistic, constructive way and in this country, you know, valley forge wasn't easy. settling the west wasn't easy. going to the moon wasn't easy. the heroic acts on flight 93 weren't easy. but they reflect a courage and an involvement and an engagement and for something better and a passion for making it better and doing it together in the best interest of this country. thank you for being here at this forum.
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thank you for listening. and i look forward to engaging you in the future. thank you very much. [applause] [applause] >> thank you, governor pawlenty. and now we are going to break for lunch. [inaudible conversations] >> the senate returns live now from its president's day recess. members gavel in and planning to continue the tradition of reading george washington's farewell address from 1796 in honor of the first's president's birth day. after that's complete they will work on procedures for issuing patents and changing the validity of the patents. and today they will have the two judicial decisions.
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we expect votes for later this afternoon around 5:30 even. live now to the u.s. senate here on c-span2. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate.
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the clerk: washington d.c., february 28, 2011. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable christopher coons, a senator from the state of deleware, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, leadership time is reserved. pursuant to the order, the senator from georgia, mr. isakson, will now read washington's farewell address. sacks sacks mr. president, unanimous consent request unanimous consent that -- mr. isakson: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that michael mclaughlin be allowed to have floor privileges during the reading of washington's farewell address. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. isakson: friends and fellow citizens, the period for a new election for a citizen to administer a new election for the government of the united states being not far distant and the time actually arrive when thoughts must be deployed and designating the person with whom you clothe with the importance of this trust, it appears to me properly especially as it may conclude to the more distinct expression of the public voice that i shall appraise you of the resolution i have formed of the client being considered of the number out of those which one will be chosen. i beg you at this time to do me the justice to be assured this resolution was not taken lightly without a strict regard to all considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutyful citizen to its country. and that in withdrawing the tender of service which silences in my situation might imply, i'm influenced by no dimunition of zeal, no defish seive great respect for your past kindness but am support bid full conviction by the step as
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incompatible with both. the acceptance of and continuance hitherto and the offerings to which your office called me has been an inclination of duty and the deference for what appears to be your desire. i constantly hoped it would have taken much earlier in my power consistent with motives which i am not at liberty to disregard to return to that retirement from which i had been reluctantly drawn. mature reflex our affairs with foreign nations and unanimous advice impel me to abandon the idea. i rejoice that the state of your concerns external as well as internal no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment duly a propriety.
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i am persuaded for whatever partiality may be retained that in the present circumstances of our country you will not disapprove my determination to retire. the impressions with which i first undertook the arduous trust were explained in the proper occasion and the discharge of this trust i will only say that i have with good intention contributed toward the organizations and administration of the government with the better exertions of which our fallible judgment were capable. not unkhoepbs in the -- not unconscious in the experience of my qualifications, experience strengthened the motive of myself and every day the increasing wait of years admonishes me that the shade of retirement is necessary to me as it will be welcome. satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my service they were temporary. i have the consolation to believe that while choice and prudence invite me to quit, the
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political scene patriotism does not forbid it. i look forward to the moment which is to terminate my career of my political life. my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgement of that debt of gratitude i tow my country. for the many honors conferred upon me, still more for the steadfast confidence with which it is supported me and for the opportunities i have enjoyed of manifesting my attachment by services faithful and preserving through the usefulness of unequal to my zeal. if benefits resulted to our country from these services let it always be remembered to your praise and as instructed example of our annals that under circumstances in which passion is agitated in every direction were allowable to mislead vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging the situation in which not infrequently want of success countenanced the spirit
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of criticism, the constancy of your support was an essential prop of your efforts and a guarantee of the plans by which they were affected. profoundly penetrated with this idea i shall carry it with me to my grave as strong insightment of unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its ben neff sense that your union may be imperpetual. that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and with virtue. that in the -- that in fine, the happiness of people of these states under the auspices of liberty may be made complete by so careful a preservation as will require of them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it. here perhaps i ought to stop but
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a solicitude for your welfare which cannot end and in the apprehension of danger urge me on occasion like the present to offer your solemn contemplation and to recommend to your frequent review some sentiments which the results of much reflex of no inconsiderable observation and which freer me all important the permanency of your felicity as a people. these will be offered to you with the more freedom as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend who can possibly have no personal motive to his biased counsel. nor can i forget as encouragement to it your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion. interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to confirm the attachment. the unity of government is now
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dear to you. it is justly so for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad and of your safety, your prosperity of that very liberty which you so highly prize. as it is easy to foresthaoe from -- to foresee that, much pains will be taken. much artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth as at this point in your political fortress against the batteries of enemies will be most constantly and actively though often covertly directed. it is of infinite movement that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness, that you should cherish a cordial and immovable attachment to it
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accustoming yourself to think of it as a palladium of political safety and prosperity watching for separation with gel -- for preservation with jealous anxiety, discounting whatever may suggest, even suspicious that it can, in any event be abandoned upon the first drawing of any attempt to alienate any portion of our country to the rest or to feeble the sacred ties which link together the various parts. for this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. the name of america which belongs to you in your national capacity must always adjust the just pride of patriotism. with slight shades of difference you have the same religion, manners, habits and political principles. you have a common cause the
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independence and liberty you possess or the work of joint counsels and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings and successes. these considerations however powerfulfully they address themselves to your sensibility are outweighed by those more immediately to your interest. here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for the carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole. the north in an unrestrained intercourse with the south protected by equal laws of common government finds in the protection of the latter greater additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of the manufacturing industry. the south, in the same intercourse, benefitting by the same agency as the north sees its agriculture grow and
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commerce expand. turning partly into its own channels, it finds its particular navigation invigorated and while it contributes to nourish the increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength to which itself is unequally adapted. in the east and like the intercourse with the west, already finds and in the progressive improvement of interior communications by land and water will more and more find a valuable vent for the commodities it brings from abroad or manufactures at home. the west arrives from the east supplies requisite to its growth and comfort and what is perhaps of still greater consequence it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indies indispensabe outlets of its own production for the weight and future maritime strength of the union. directly by a community of interest as one nation.
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any other tenure by which the west can hold its essential advantage whether derived from its own separate strength or from a natural connection with foreign power must be intrinsically precarious. while every part of our country feels an immediate and peculiar interest in a union all the parts combined cannot fail to find the united mass of means and efforts. greater strength, greater resource of proportionality, greater security from the external danger, less frequent interruption by the peace of foreign nations and what is of immeasurable value that must derive from a union, essential from the wars between themselves which so frequently between neighboring countries and not tied together by the same government, which their own rivalship alone would be sufficient to produce but which opposite the foreign alliance, attachments and intrigues would
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stimulate and embitter. they will avoid military establishments which under any form of government are inauspicious to liberty and which will be regarded as particularly hostile to the republican liberty. in the sense it is that your union ought to be considered as the main prop of your liberty and that the love one ought to endear you to the preservation of the other. these considerations speak as pervasive language to ever reflecting and virtuous mind. in exhibit the continuous of the union as a primary object of patriotic desire. it so large a sphere? let experience solve it. to listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. we are authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole, with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the respective subdivisions, will
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afford a happy issue to the experiment. it is well worth a fair and full experiment. with such powerful and obvious motives to union affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who, in any quarter, may endeavor to weaken its hands. in contemplating the causes which may disturb our union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations -- northern and southern, atlantic and western -- whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. one of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. you cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring
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from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. the inhabitants of our western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head. they have seen in the negotiation by the executive and in the unanimous ratification by the senate of the treaty with spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event throughout the united states, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the general government and in the atlantic states unfriendly to their interests in regard to the mississippi. they have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties -- that with great britain and that with spain -- which secure to them everything they could desire in respect to our foreign relations toward confirming their prosperity. will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the union by which they were procured? will they not henceforth be
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deaf to those advisors, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them with aliens? to the efficacy and permanency of your union, a government for the whole is indispensable. no alliances, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute. they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay by the adoption of a constitution of government, better calculated than your former, for an intimate union and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. this government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy,
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and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. the basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. but the constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. the very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government. all obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental
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principle and of fatal tendency. they serve to organize faction; to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests. however combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying
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afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion. toward the preservation of your government and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. one method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system and, thus, to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. in all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion exposes to perpetual
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change from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember especially, that for the efficient management of your common interests in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. it is, indeed, little else than a name where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property. i have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. let me now take a more comprehensive view and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of
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the spirit of party generally. this spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. it exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy. the alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. but this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. the disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and, sooner or later, the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his
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competitors, turns this disposition to the purpose of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty. without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. it serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. it agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection. it opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passion. thus, the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another. there is an opinion that parties in free countries are
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useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. this, within certain limits, is probably true; and in governments of a monarchial cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. but in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. from their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose; and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. a fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest instead of warming, it should consume. it is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration to confine themselves within their respective constitutional
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spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. the spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one and, thus, to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. a just estimate of that love of power and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. the necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern, some of them in our country and under our own eyes. to preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. if, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any
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particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the constitution designates. but let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. the precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield. of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. in vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness -- these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. the mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. a volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. let it simply be asked, where is the security for property,
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for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? and let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. it is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. the rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric? promote, then, as an object of primary importance,
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institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. in proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened. as a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. one method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding, likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. the execution of these maxims belongs to your
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representatives; but it is necessary that public opinion should cooperate. to facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that toward the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties) ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate. observe good faith and justice toward all nations. cultivate peace and harmony with all. religion and morality enjoin this conduct. and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it?
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it will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great nation to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. who can doubt that in the course of time and things the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? can it be that providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? the experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices? in the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations and passionate attachments for others should be excluded, and that in place of them, just and amicable feelings toward all should be cultivated. the nation which indulges
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toward another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is, in some degree, a slave. it is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. the nation prompted by ill will and resentment sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. the government sometimes participates in the national propensity and adopts through passion what reason would reject. at other times it makes the animosity of the nation
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subservient to projects of hostility, instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. the peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations has been the victim. so, likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. it leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained and by exciting jealousy, ill will, and a disposition to retaliate
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in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld; and it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country without odium, sometimes even with popularity, gilding with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation. as avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. how many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils! such an attachment of a small or weak toward a great and powerful nation dooms the
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former to be the satellite of the latter. against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (i conjure you to believe me, fellow citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. but that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial, else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided instead of a defense against it. excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to
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surrender their interests. the great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. so far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. here let us stop. europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none or a very remote relation. hence, she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities. our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. if we remain one people under an efficient government, the
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period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel. why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of european ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice? it is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world, so far, i mean, as we are now at liberty to do it;
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for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. i hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs that honesty is always the best policy. i repeat, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. but, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them. taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies. harmony and a liberal intercourse with all nations are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. but even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand, neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing with powers so
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disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary and liable to be, from time to time, abandoned or varied as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. there can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. it is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard. in offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of
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an old and affectionate friend, i dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression i could wish -- that they will control the usual current of the passions or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. but if i may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good -- that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism -- this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare by which they have been dictated. how far in the discharge of my official duties i have been guided by the principles which have been delineated the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. to myself, the assurance of my own conscience is that i have at least believed myself to be
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guided by them. in relation to the still-subsisting war in europe, my proclamation of the 22nd of april, 1793, is the index to my plan. sanctioned by your approving voice and by that of your representatives in both houses of congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it. after deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights i could obtain, i was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. having taken it, i determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it with moderation, perseverance, and firmness. the considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. i will only observe that, according to my understanding
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of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all. the duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without anything more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity toward other nations. the inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. with me, a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions and to progress, without interruption, to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes. though in reviewing the incidents of my administration i am unconscious of intentional error, i am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that i may
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have committed many errors. whatever they may be, i fervently beseech the almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. i shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence and that, after 45 years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest. relying on its kindness in this, as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love toward it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, i anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which i promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking in the midst of my fellow citizens the benign influence of good laws under a
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free government -- the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as i trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers. george washington. united states. 17th september, 1796. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: first, let me congratulate the senator from georgia for his excellent presentation of george washington's farewell address. it has been an important senate tradition for many years, and i thank him for his reading that for all of us on this important occasion. mr. president, on another matter, i want to start by
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welcoming everyone back from the recess. it's good to be back. time away from washington is an opportunity to step back and to measure the priorities of party against those of people who sent us here to make sure that they are properly aligned. as the two parties re-engage this week in a debate about our nation's finances, it's vital that we focus not on the mere partisan advantage but on what's right for the nation. when it comes to the two choices before us of either maintaining an unsustainable status quo on spending or to begin to start cutting spending, the choice could not be more clear. this morning's news brought word that a 47-member panel of some of the nation's top business economists view government overspending as the top threat to our economy. in other words, a majority of those experts think that washington's inability to live within its means is the single
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greatest threat to our nation's economic future. this isn't a groundbreaking observation. after all, americans have been telling lawmakers for more than two years that business as usual simply will not cut it anymore. they want us to get our fiscal house in order and to start to create the right conditions for private-sector job growth. but today's news is further confirmation of the stakes in the debate over spending, and that democrats in congress need to rethink the approach they've taken up till now. the message from the november elections is quite clear: stop spending money we don't have. yet democratic leaders persist in defending budgets that do just that we will into the future. hearlier this month, the president unveiled a 10-year estimate for the budget.
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at no point would the government spendings less than it takes in. it doesn't even try. just look at the estimates for this year alone. unless we start to cut this year's projected spending, washington will spend more than $1.5 trillion more than it takes in. $1.5 trillion more than it takes in. this year. about $350 billion more in red ink than we had last year. that's $350 billion more that red ink than we had last year. think about that. a $350 billion increase in deficit spending over last year. after an election in qu which te voters unambiguously said they want us to cut spending and stop adding debt cht and next year democrats in congress want us to do it again. once again they plan to spend more than $1 trillion more than we take in. same pattern the year after that. they want to spend hundreds of billions of dollars more than we take in, and on and on and on.
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now all of this overspending of course just adds to our overall debt, and when you add it all up, the numbers are truly staggering. as a result of democrat budgets, the federal debt just five years from now is expected to exceed $20 trillion. five years from now -- $20 trillion. interest payments alone on that debt will exceed $500 billion a year. that's just interest payments on the $20 trillion debt. a half a trillion dollars a year. talk about a disconnect. the american people have spent the last two years trying to get their own fiscal houses in order. millions have lost their jobs. millions more have lost their homes. meanwhile, of what the democrats in washington been up to? we will, on the day the president was sworn into of
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course, the national debt was $10.6 trillion. in the 25 months since, it's increased by $3.5 trillion. and despite a national uprising over this pro any gas circumstance an an election that represented a wholesale repudiation of it, here's the president's response: spend more. he calls it "investments." what about democratic leaders in congress? are they reading the writing on the wall? we will, until this past weekend, they insisted they couldn't agree to cut a dime in spending, not a dime. rather than look for ways that the two parties can look together to rein in spending, they looked for ways to marginalize those who are working hard to come up with ways to do it. they called anybody who wanted to cut a dime in spending "an extremist." i'll tell you what's extreme, mr. president.
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what's extreme is $20 trillion in debt. that's what's extreme. half a trillion dollars in interest payments a year is extreme. refusing to agree to even try to live within your means is extreme. tomorrow the house will have a vote on a two-week spending bill. this bill represents an effort to change the culture here in washington. it says, let's startle to change the mentality -- let's start to change the mentality around here. let's find $4 trillion that all of us can agree to cut and let's cut t and continue from that good start. democratic leaders in congress resisted even this up until a few days ago. now they're starting to suggest they mighting willing to agree to t this is progress. so this week democrats will have an effort to show they've gotten the message. they can show they agree that time has come to change the status quo. less spending, lower debt, reining in the size and scope of government. that's what's needed.
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that's how we will create the conditions for private-sector job growth. now democratic leaders in congress have tried record spending and deficits. what's it gotten us? more than $3 trillion more in debt, and 3 million more jobs lost. $3 trillion in new debt while we lost 3 million new jobs. democrats have an opportunity to th week to show they get it. they have an opportunity to show that the status quo on spending and debt is no longer an option, to turn a corner. a lot depends on how they respond to that opportunity. will they continue to see what they can get away with it? or will they finally concede that the old way of doing business must come to an end? mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask consent that the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: mr. president, following any leader remarks, there will be a period of morning business until 3:30 today. senators during that period of time will be able to speak for up to ten minutes each. at 3:30, we'll moch to the patent reform act. at 4:30, the senate will turn to executive session to consider the nominations of amy tottenberg of scror juror to be united states district judge and steve jones of georgia to be united states district judge. the time until 5:30 will be equally divided and controlled
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in the usually form. at 5:30, senators should expect a voice vote on confirmation of the tottenberg nomination, to be followed by a roll call vote for the quftion of the jones nomination. the senate will consider the patent bill and consider the continuing resolution during that week's session. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 3:30 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. a senator: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: i ask unanimous consent that we dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. corker: thank you, mr. president. i rise today, mr. president, to talk about our dilemma here in the federal government, wherein the american people are watching as we try to deal with our spending issues. there is a dig debate over a
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two-week spending issue. an issue where we try to cut $4 billion. hopefully some resolve will come to that. but i think what the american people are watching is that unless there is some type of gun to our head or some type of gentes swigs in front -- urgent situation in front ever us, we don't have the ability in this body to deal with spending issues in a disciplined nor courageous way. i think everybody understands that, and they understand the only way we're looking at whatever spending cuts take discussions over whatght now they might be -- but the only reason this issue is being addressed is that we have this deadline of a government -- of government funding ending in the next week or so. mr. president, i know -- i know the presiding officer is someone who served as a county mayor and had to balance budgets each year and will to figure out to way to
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live within our means. and i know that upon arriving here a few months, a you had to be just totally aghast at the fablght fact that we are taking in $2.2 trillion this year and spending $3.7 trillion this year. and if you put all the discretionary spending that we had -- if you took every bit of -- quote -- "nonmandatory spending" or discretionary spending off the table, we still wouldn't have a balanced budget. and so everybody in this country, i think, knows that where we are is totally out of line. we're spending about 24 -- a little over 24% of our country's economic output today. over the last 40 years, we've spent about 20.6% of our country's g.d.p. so, mr. president, i've put in place with claire mccaskill from missouri, a bill -- we have numbers of cosponsors. we've put in something called the cap afnlgt and we hope that
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over the course of this next year, it's a bill that will over the course of the next several months, that this is a bill that will actually pass. what it does, i think in a very logical way, is it says that we're spending at levels relative to our economy today that are out of proportion and let's go from where we are today to the four-year average over a ten-year period. now, mr. president, as presiding officer, you'd have to agree that this is just a logical thing that gives us time to go from where we are today over the next ten years to where the country has been spending relative to our country's output for the last 40 years. what this also does, mr. president, is it puts congress in a straitjacket. i think everybody's watching and knowing if we didn't have this c.r., this continuing resolution bill that was that's ending this
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week and the government was going to shut down if it wasn't funded, there would be no negotiations taking place right now for spending. we know that. what this does is put in place a straitjacket on congress -- one that is needed, to take us from here to there over a ten-year period. what happens if we don't meet the requirements of this declining spending relative to our economy, then sequestration comes into place. what happens is the o.m.b. comes in and on a pro rata basis, based on which accounts, what their relative weight is to the overall spending levels, comes in and just takes out on a pro rata basis out of every account of government. mr. president, one of the problems that we have in this country is we want to deal with those things that are easy, and that is discretionary spending. in many cases it ends up being non-defense discretionary
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spending, which ends up being about $600 billion roughly over the $3.7 trillion that we're spending. and everybody in the world knows there's no way for us to solve our problem by only dealing with discretionary spending. so what this bill would do is put all items on the balance sheet. in other words, it would include all of the entitlements. and i don't think there's a person in this body that believes if we continue as we are, the seniors that are counting on things like medicare and social security, we all know that if we don't redesign these programs so they'll be sustained for the long hall, that -- long haul, seniors that are counting on this program are not going to have them. what this bill would do is force us in congress to deal with designing these programs in such a way that they would be here for the long haul. so it puts everything on the table. again, there's not a thinking person in washington that
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doesn't know that we have to address these issues. there are a lot of people that say, well, you know, we cannot really do these draconian things right now because we're in the middle of a recession, which hopefully looks like it's changing and hopefully changing very rapidly. but these changes would begin from where we are in the year 2013. so you'd have a year or so to redesign these programs so we could act in an appropriate way to really ensure that they are here for the future but also put them in place in a manner that doesn't kill the american taxpayer. so, mr. president, with capped spending, we've got multiyear averaging processes in this bill to make sure if you have a change in the economy in one year, you don't have this volatile situation but that we have the ability a year in advance to know what the
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appropriate spending levels are. it gives congress the ability to act upon that throughout the year. if congress doesn't act, then 45 days after a year ends, o.m.b. comes in again and puts in place something called sequestration, just automatically takes money out of these accounts. that, mr. president, i think, gives us the impetus to want to make sure that we actually act. i don't think there's anybody here in congress that would want o.m.b. just coming in and taking money out of accounts. so that would be in essence the thing that would give us the sense of urgency that we badly need in this body. mr. president, this is a problem that exists on both sides of the aisle. that's why i've sought bipartisan support for this bill. i've tried to put something in place that is very logical. i know that's not often the case here, but something that americans across our country can
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understand, but also those here in washington will see as something that is really working towards a solution to get us where we need to go. i think all of us understand the demographic changes that are taking place in our country. i think all of us know that over the next ten years, 20 million more americans are going to be on medicare. almost 20 million more americans will be on social security. and we're right on the cusp of that bubble that i'm certainly getting ready to be a part of -- not necessarily the presiding officer. but the point is this is something that has to occur for the good of our country. this is called the cap act. again, what it will do, mr. president, is ensure that long after the point in time when the c.r. window opens and closes, long after the time the debt ceiling vote which will happen a little bit later this year occurs, long after those occur and the american people have moved on to other issues,
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and obviously congress has moved on to other issues, we keep in place this fiscal discipline, this straitjacket to take us where we need to go. the presiding officer and i were in pakistan and afghanistan last week, and we witnessed some of the problems that we're having there. we also witnessed the brilliance of our men and women in uniform and also many hardworking individuals at the state department. and while those threats are threats, the threats that we're dealing with there are threats that are very important to the american people, i think most of us know the biggest threat today to our country is our inability to deal appropriately with our financial circumstances. and i think we all know that if we don't deal with that pretty soon, we're going to be putting our country, our country's future in jeopardy, the future of these wonderful pages that sit in front of me, putting their futures in jeopardy.
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mr. president, the thing that's fascinating about this issue is that unlike the things we saw in pakistan and the things we saw in afghanistan where we're relying on other people, this is something that we can do ourselves. we have 100% control over spending in washington. 100% of that is held in the hands of 100 senators and 435 house members. this is not something where we're depending on other countries or we're concerned about what might happen elsewhere. this is something that we ourselves can deal with. so what i've tried to put in place with claire mccaskill and others -- and there are growing numbers of other people who are part of this process -- is to try to put something in place that causes us to be responsible to the american people. so i hope that, i hope that others will join this. it's my hope that what we'll do is three things. i hope that we will vote and
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pass on cuts in federal spending today. i hope that will happen over the next short period of time whr-fplt it's -- whether it's some of the things we're looking at on the c.r., maybe it's recommendations that have been put in place by the president's deficit-reduction commission, but i hope that what we will do as a body is go ahead and vote and pass real cuts now. secondarily, what i hope will happen is we'll put in place something like the cap act to make sure that we continue that fiscal discipline long after people move on to other topics, that we keep that straitjacket in place so that we do those things, again, that are responsible not only to generations now but to future generations. then thirdly, i hope we figure out a way through some type of amendment to ensure that on into the future we've put something
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in place at the federal level that causes us, causes us to be fiscally responsible in this country. all of us know what it means to have to make choices. all of us have households. many of us have led cities and states. many of us have had businesses. we understand that that's what happens in the real world, and it's something that certainly needs to happen here and has been sorely lacking for a long time. so, mr. president, i thank you for the time on the floor here today. i hope to talk about this many, many times. i've been doing it, i assure you, throughout the state of tennessee and in multiple forms in the senate. i thank you for the time and i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: i'd like to ask unanimous consent that we dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. corker: mr. president, i had the opportunity to stand near you for the last several moments, and you had a couple of questions about the cap act that i was just talking about on the floor, and had some great questions about what does it take to overcome the cap act.
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in the event we were taoeubl pass it, it's -- able to pass it, it's just a ten-page bill, very elegant. doesn't have a lot of whereas'. it's just a business document that takes us from where we are to where we need to be. in essence to override it would take two-thirds of those voting. it would take two-thirds of the house and two-thirds of the senate to actually override or get out of the straitjacket, if you will. some of the questions that people have had in the past, there were previous bills that tried to -- you had gramm-rudman, you had other kinds of bills to try to really keep washington fiscally focused. those bills required 60 votes. this would be a higher threshold. yes, if there was some type of national emergency and we needed to move beyond this straitjacket for a year or six months or something like that, with a two-thirds vote, you could do that. without that, i mean, 67 votes
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is a pretty tough threshold. hopefully it's the kind of threshold necessary to keep the kind of discipline in place we need. it's a ten-page bill. again, very elegant. i think it lays out a solution for us that hopefully will be a part of anything that we do over the next several months. i think all of us, i know in talking with you over the last several days, traveling to these various countries, i think there are many people like you that came here. i know myself, came here to solve problems, not to message. it seems like in a body like this, it's tough to solve these kinds of problems. but the only way to do it is to offer a pragmatic solution. i know there some people that are are interested sometimes in messaging. i've tried to offer something that i think will take us from a place that is very much out of line in spending to a place that
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is more -- more appropriate. mr. president, i might also say that i thought the president's deficit reduction commission had some very good points as it relates to tax reform. i think all of us are aware of the one -- $1.2 trillion in tax expenditures that exist. i was doing an event over the last several days and a gentleman raised his hand and asked me, what do you mean by tax expenditures. isn't the money ours until we give it to the federal government and you guys sort of -- why would you call it a tax expenditure. i think that people realize that in our tax code, there are all kinds of ex cliewtionz and subsidies -- exclusions and subsidies and favored companies and favor this and favored that, and if we did away with all of those, there would b be $1.2 trillion that we can use to lower everybody's rate and we
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could make the tax code much more simple. the deficit reduction commission said that we could take our rates from where they are -- the corporate rates down to a level of about 26%. somewhere between 23% and 29% and lower everybody's rates individually and i think most americans, instead of filling out all these forms to see if they benefit from these various subsidies and credits would much rather know that everybody's on the same playing field. some favored company is not in a situation where they're more favored than another, but everybody's on the same -- same basis. so think there's been some -- so i think there's been some good work down there, mr. president, and i hope that we're able to take some votes on those kinds of things over the next several months. but i just want to say there's a very elegant, pragmatic solution that's been offered that would go hand in hand with these types of measures and would cause us over the next 10 years to
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exercise the kind of fiscal discipline that this country really needs. again, the thing that i think threatens our national security, certain will you our -- certainly our economic security, more than we saw on the ground in the middle east last week. with that, mr. president, i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from vermont.
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mr. leahy: i ask consent that the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: objection is heard. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: i ask unanimous consent that the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: is there an objection? without objection, so ordered. lay mr. president -- the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will now proceed to the consideration of s. 23, which clerk will -- the clerk: s. did t-3, a bill to amend title 35, united states code, to provide for patent reform. mr. leahy: i ask consent that the rest of the bill -- reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: and, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the
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committee-reported amendments be agreed to, the motions to reconsider be laid on the table be considered made rktsz laid upon the table, and no intervening action or debate, and further that the amended version be considered original text for the purposes of further amendment. the presiding officer: is there an objection? without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, the senate is today tryin turning is attention to a measure that will help create jobs -- the senate today is turning its attention to a measure that will help create jobs, energize the commissioner and promote innovation. the patent reform act has also come to be known as the america invents act, is a key part of any jobs agenda.
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it can help unleak innovation, all without adding a pen me to the deficit. this is commonsense and bipartisan legislation. during the next few days the dismat come together to pass this needed legislation, do so in a bipartisan manner. it represents the finest traditions of the united states senate. i thank the majority leader for proceeding to this measure and the republican leader for his cooperation. this is a bill that was reported unanimously by the members of the judiciary committee, because we all know -- republicans and democrats alike -- that it's important to our country's continued economic recovery and to our successfully competing in the global economy. america needs a 21st century patent system to lead. the last reform of our patent system, mr. president, was
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nearly 60 years ago. i think it's about time to catch up with the needs of this country and with what the rest of the world has already done. in the state of the union address, president obama challenged the nation to innovate, outbuild, and outeducate. enacting the act is a key to meeting this challenge. reforming the nation's antiquated patent system will promote american innovation, it will create american jobs, it will grow america's economy, and i thank the president and his administration for their help and support for the leahy hch hatch-grassley america invents act. commerce secretary locke has been a strong partner in our efforts. the trademark office has been an indispensable source of wise counsel. innovation drives the nation's
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economy. that entrepreneurial spirit can only be protected by a patent system that promotes invention and spurs new ideas. we need to reform our patent system, so these innovations can more quickly get to market. a modernized patent system, one that puts american entrepreneurs on the same playing field as those throughout the world, something we americans should care about and we should want today and not months or years from now, is the key to that success. that's why this idea cuts across the political spectrum. bpt senate cosponsors include senator kohl of wisconsin, senator klobuchar of minnesota, senator gillibrand of new york, the distinguished presiding officer senator coons of delaware, as we will as senator ciecialg the assistant republican leader; senator sessions of alabama, senator lieberman of connecticut,
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senator franken of minnesota, senator blumenthal of connecticut, and senator harkin of iowa. republicans and democrats in big states and small are coming together to support american innovation. the senate judiciary committee, as i said, unanimously approved this legislation on february 3 of this year. but this effort extends back several years. our current congressional efforts reform the nation's patent system began in 2005. in fact, this bill is the result of years of hard work and compromise. the senate judiciary committee has reported patent reform legislation to the senate in each of the last three congresses. in the house it's seen efforts over the same period, led by congressman lamar smith of texas. and howard berman of california. the legislation we're
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considering today in fact is structured on the original house bill and contains many of the original provisions. from the beginning, we each recognized the need for a more effective and efficient patent system, one that improves patent quality and provides incentives for entrepreneurs to create jobs. a balanced and efficient intellectual property system that rewards invention and promotes innovation through high-quality patents is crucial to our nation's economic prosperity and job growth. it's how we win the future, by unleashing the american inventive spirit. this bill -- the america invents act -- will allow our inventors and innovators to fluor ierchlt and it will do it without adding a pen nay to the deficit. not a time in taxpayer money is spent on the patent and trademark office reforms. they're all funded by patent fees, not taxes. the america invents act will
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accomplish three important goals. it'll improve and harmonize operations at the p.t.o., the patent and trademark office. it'll improve the quality of the patents that are issued. and it will do what virtually every entrepreneur wants: provide more certainty in litigation. particularly legislation will move this nation's patent system a the firns venter to file system. it will make important quality enforcement -- enhancement, rather, mechanisms. it'll provide the p.t.o. with the resources it needs to work through its backlog. the america invents act provides the tools the p.t.o. needs to separate the wheat from the chaff, to help businesses bring new products to market and create jobs. this is interesting because this is a piece of legislation supported by both business and
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labor, something we all want to see in this chamber. including the national association of manufacturers, the united steelworkers, the united venter capital association, the afl-cio, the associatioassociation of americn universities, and companies representing all sectors of the patent community that have been urging action on patent reform proposals for years. i'd ask that certain letters of support be included in the record at this point. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: innovators have always been at the heart of america and america's success. the founding of our nation, we recognized the importance of promoting and protecting innovation. in fact, interestingly enough, this is one area actually in the constitution. the constitution explicitly grants congress the power to promote the progress and science
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and useful arts by securing limited time to inventors the exclusive right to their prospective discoveries. it is not a feature of the legislature but an integral part of our constitution. the patent system plays a key part in encouraging innovation and bringing new products to market. the discoveries made by american inveterans and research institutions commercialed by our companies and protected and promoted by our patent laws made our system the envy of the world. in spite of this, a "newsweek" study last year found that only 41% of americans belief the united states is staying ahead of china in innovation. a thompson-reuters analysis predicted that china will outpace the united states in patent filings this year.
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china in fact has a specific plan, not just to overtake the united states in patent apoliticiaapplications, but to n quadruple its filings over the next five years, all the more reason why we must act now. this is not something that should be delayed. we should act on it. delaying it is saying we want china to overtake the united states. moving forward says, we want to be competitive. in fact, it's astonishing that china has been modernizing its patent laws and promoting innovation but the united states has failed to keep pace. i've said before, it's been 60 years since we last enacted reform in the american patent law. we can no longer wait. we can no longer remain complacent and expect to stay on top. in many areas of our highly
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contentious when the patent reform debate began. their decision reflect the concerns heard in congress. the questionable patents were too easily obtained, too difficult to challenge. courts have moved along in a generally positive direction more aligned with the text of the stawlts and more recently the federal circuit aggressively moved to constrain runaway damage awards which plagued the patent system by basing awards at unreliable numbers, the reality of licensing decisions. now, the courts have addressed issues where they can, but in some areas only congress can take the necessary steps. it will speed up the application process and at the same time improve patent quality. it will provide the u.s. p.t.o. with the resources it needs to
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work through its application backlog. while i still have some voice left, i apologize -- i will ask, mr. president, consent that when i finish, when i yield the floor, my full statement be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: again, we're not talking about democratic or republican objectives. we're trying to find the proper imbalance for america, for ow comirks for our inveterans, for our consumers. we don't want delay and say we're complacent with china overtaking the united states. i think thomas friedman wrote in "the new york times" a country which endows its people with more tools and basic research than new goods and services is the one that will not just survive but thrive down the road.
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we might be able to stimulate our way back to stability, but we can only invent our way back to prosperity. i think of the country's first patent. it was issued to a vermonter. thomas jefferson, the secretary of the state, examined the application. president washington signed it. it was on the anniversary of the day thomas edison received the historic patent for his incandescent lamp paved the way for the bulb that illuminated our homes and offices around the world. week was when the patent was issued for lifesaving improvements. the diver's suit. it was magician harry hudini who devised a mechanism to allow divers in distress to safely
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escape. we can smooth the path for more interesting and great american inventions. that's what the bipartisan comprehensive patent reform bill would do. i want to recognize in particular the work of senator hatch, who is here on the floor. he's been a long time partner of mine on intellectual property issues. and senator grassley, the ranking member on the committee and the input we've received from so many others. and working with both sides of the aisle in the other body to reach the goal of improving patent qualities. we'll have the chance to consider amendments. and i would hope that amendments be germane and that we not, we're not sitting here trying to make it possible for other countries to overtake us. this is a time when we should be standing up and talking about those things that improve our
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patent system so that we can compete with the rest of the world, and we should be able to complete this work easily by the middle of this week if we want. now, we should get our job done -- incidentally, i would, part of the house committee measures that we have for this side, i send to the desk an amendment. i ask for its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from vermont, mr. leahy, proposes an amendment numbered 114. mr. leahy: i ask the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. leahy: i send another amendment to the -- mr. hatch: -- mr. leahy: mr. president, i see the distinguished senior senator from utah opbd floor and yield to -- on the floor and yield to him. i yield to the senator from utah. mr. hatch: thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i thank the distinguished chairman of the judiciary committee. he has been a wonderful leader the whole time i've been on that committee with regard to intellectual property issues. it's been a pleasure to work with him and his staff. they're good people. this is a particularly important bill. it's only the first step. once we bring it up and hopefully pass it, then the house has got to bring up their bill. and there are differences between the two, and we'll have to get together in a conference and resolve those differences.
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those who might have some angst about this particular bill, give it time. we'll be working diligently. the distinguished senator from vermont and myself and others, of course, our ranking member, senator grassley, will be working diligently to try and resolve these problems. ultimately hopefully we'll have a bill that everybody in this country should recognize as what needs to be done to keep us at the forefront of all technological innovation in this world. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that re ph*eu -- re ph*eu yusell and a foreign affairs detailee in my office from the department of state. lieutenant general jason bartomy, paul la williams, a detail from the food and drug administration, and jesse baker, a detailee to the senate finance
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committee from the u.s. secret service all be granted privileges of the floor for the remainder of the first session of the 112th congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to express my support for the pending patent reform legislation before us. as many know, several of my colleagues and i have been working together on this bill for several congresses. i especially want to recognize the ongoing efforts of our judiciary committee chairman, pat leahy. over the years he and i have worked tirelessly to bring about reform to our nation's patent system. i want to recognize the efforts of the ranking member chuck grassley as well as my senate colleagues who have been instrumental in forging the compromise before us today, which, in my opinion, is the first step in trying to arrive at a final consensus bill. similarly, no enumeration would be complete without recognizing the considerable work done by our colleagues over in the u.s. house of representatives.
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house judiciary committee chairman lamar smith has been a leader on patent reform for many years. his vision, expertise and leadership are highly respected and especially appreciated by me, by my colleagues as well and many throughout the patent community. similarly, no enumeration would be complete without recognizing the considerable work done by our colleagues in the house of representatives. house judiciary committee chairman lamar smith has been a leader on patent reform legislation for many years. his vision and expertise and leadership are highly respected and appreciated by me, my colleagues and many throughout the patent community. i also want to specifically acknowledge the invaluable contributions of representatives john conyers, howard berman, bob goodlatte and zoe lofgren over in the house. they have all been very, very effective people with regard to these very important issues. they have been stalwarts in
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underscoring the vital need to reform our patent system. i look forward to seeing the results of their process and working with them to complete this important task. they have been stall warts in underscoring the vital need to reform our patent system. most of us are very familiar with the history of pa threpbgts, but it -- patent legislation but it bears repeating we have not had meaningful reform to our system in well over half a century. not any meaningful reform whatsoever, even though many things have changed during these intervening years. a lot of the laws have changed, a lot of the technology has changed, a lot of innovation has occurred. i'm not going to spend my time today on a history lesson. instead i urge everyone to consider not the past but look forward to the future. and that future begins with examining our present. the nation's current economic situation requires that we take advantage of our ingenuity that
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has made america the economic envy of the world. for me, it's pretty simple. patent reform is more than words on paper. it's about jobs and the positive impact they have on our economy. chairman leahy understands this connection and has wisely named the bill the america invents act of 2011. while we debate this important legislation, it is crucial that we keep the creation of jobs and economic prosperity at the forefront of our thoughts. after all, patents encourage technological advancement by providing incentives to invest -- to invent, to invest in and to disclose new technology. now more than ever we must ensure efficiency and increase quality in the issuance of patents. this in turn will create an environment that fosters entrepreneurship and the creation of new jobs, thereby contributing to growth within
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all sectors of our economy. if you think about it, one single deployed patent has a ripple effect that works like this: the properly examined patent promptly issued by the u.s. patent and trademark office creates jobs, jobs that are dedicated to developing and producing new products and services. unfortunately, the current uspto backlog now exceeds 700,000 applicants. the sheer volume of patent applications not only reflects the vibrant innovative spirit that has made america a worldwide leader in science, engineering and technology, but the patent backlog also represents dynamic economic growth waiting to be unleashed. we cannot afford to go down this path any longer. we need to take advantage of this opportunity to expand our economy. during consideration of the
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american invents act, i encourage my colleagues to be mindful that legislation is rarely without its imperfections and we have a tremendous chance here to take much-needed action. to those who believe otherwise, rest assured my intent is to do no harm. but i want the legislative process to move forward. it is long overdue. i urge my colleagues to participate in the debate and vote upon the amendments that they think will strengthen the bill. there are some proposals that i believe merit serious consideration by all of us. at the end of the day the passage of this bill will update our patent system, help strengthen our economy and provide a spring board for further improvements to our intellectual property laws. i have every confidence that we can come together and act in a bipartisan manner. the stakes are simply thigh for us not -- to high for us not to seize this moment. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that further extension of my remarks be placed in the
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record at this point. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i rise to speak on s. 23, the amendments probably have a lot of amendments but right now we're talking about the bill. america invents act is what it's called. and i should give, express my gratitude to those of others that have helped so much on this, been, quite frankly, more involved on this bill than i have been. chairman leahy, senator hatch, senator sessions, senator kyl. but this is a bipartisan bill.
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over the past five years or so, the senate judiciary committee has been considering comprehensive patent reform. chairman leahy has engaged senators on both sides of the aisle as well as a wide range of groups on the outside. his efforts have been pivotal in bringing together diverse views and crafting a reasonable compromise bill. in fact, the bill is supported by a large number of industries and other stakeholders from the united states patent community. i commend the leadership of chairman leahy as well as the leadership of senator hatch for getting us to where we are at this point. intellectual property rights are extremely important to our nation's economy. an effective and efficient
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patent system will help promote innovation and technological advancement in america and make life better for us all. an effective and efficient patent system also will help provide stimulus for businesses and obviously generate many new jobs. everyone agrees we need a well-functioning patent and trademark office within our government so that it can complete its work in a timely manner. we should find ways to help the patent and trademark office speed up the patent application process and eliminate the current backlog that it is experiencing. we should reduce costs and decrease abusive litigation and improve certainty in the patent process and strengthen patent
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quality. the america invents act will help do all of these things. the bipartisan bill before us will update and upgrade the united states patent system. it will enhance transparency and patent quality, and it will ensure that the patent and trademark office has the tools and funding to cut its backlog and process patent applications more quickly. the improvements to the patent system contained in our bill will help spur economic prosperity and job creation. i'm pleased, as you can tell, to support this legislation. specifically the bill would improve patent quality by establishing the opportunity for third parties to submit prior art and other information
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related to a pending application for consideration by a patent examiner. by allowing prior art to be submitted earlier in the process and explain to the office patent examiners will be able to issue higher quality patents. the bill would create a first window-grant opposition proceeding open for nine months after the grant of the patent. this will allow the patent and trademark office to weed out patents that shouldn't have been issued in the first place. this new post-grant review process, which was recommended way back in the 2004 report issued by the national academy of sciences, would enable early challenges to patents, but also protect the rights of inventors
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and patent owners against endless litigation. the reason we want to ensure that the patent and trademark office issues high-quality patents is to incentivize investment in truly innovative technological advances and at the same time provide more certainty for investors in these inventions. in addition, our bill would improve the current interparty's administrative process for challenging the validity of patents. it would establish adversarial interparty's review with higher threshold for anybod initiating proceeding safeguards to prevent a process to harass patent owners. it also would provide and
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include a strengthened he' he's stoppal standard -- the same issues that were raised or reasonably could have been raised in a prior challenge. the bill would significantly reduce the ability to use post-grant procedures for abusive serial challenges to patents. these don't -- these new procedures would also provide faster, less costly alternatives to civil litigation to challenge patents. our bill would institute a gate -- a gate keeping rule for the courts to assess the legal basis for damages and jury instructions. this would provide more certainty for damage calculation
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and promote uniformity and fairness. the bill also would transition the united states to a first inventor to file system simplifying the application process and coordinating it with our trading partners. this change will reduce cost and help improve the competitiveness of american inventors abroad. further, our bill would provide fee-setting authority for the patent trademark office director to ensure that the patent and trademark office is properly funded and can reduce its current backlog of patent applications. our bill also would mandate a reduction of fees by 50% for small entities and 75% for microentities.
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i want to particularly thank chairman leahy for working with me and senator baucus on a provision that would curtail patents on tax strategies. these patents encumber the ability of taxpayers and advisers to use the tax law freely, interfering with the voluntary tax compliance system that america has and is one of the high points of our tax system. tax strategy patents undermine the fairness of the federal tax system by removing from the public domain ways to satisfy a taxpayers' legal obligations. if firms or individuals hold patent for these strategies, some taxpayers could face fee simply for -- fees simply for complying with the tax code. moreover, tax patents provide
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windfalls to lawyers and patent holders by granting the exclusive rights to use tax loopholes, which could provide some businesses with an unfair advantage in our competitive market system. so the provisions that senator baucus and i put forth would ensure that all taxpayers will have equal access to strategies to comply with the tax code. this provision was carefully drafted with the help of the patent and trademark office not to cover software preparation or other software tools or systems used to prepare tax or information returns or manage taxpayers' finances. so in concluding my opening statement on this legislation, this legislation, the american invents act, will protect
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inventors' rights and encourage innovation and investment in our economy. the bill will improve transparency and third-party participation in the patent application review process. this, in turn, will strengthen patent quality and result in more fairness for both patent holders and patent challengers. the bill will institute beneficial changes to the patent process to curb litigation abuses and improve certainty for investors and innovators. it will help companies do business more efficiently in the international environment. the bill also will enhance operations of the patent and trademark office with administrative reforms and will give the office fee-setting authority to reduce backlogs and better manage its business.
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so i'm pleased to support this legislation. it's a hard-fought bipartisan legislation. and i urge my colleagues to support it as well. i yield the floor. mr. leahy: thank you. mr. president, i thank the distinguished senator from iowa. and as i noted before he got on the floor, he's been extremely important in working on -- on this issue, and the senator from louisiana can hold a moment, i have a unanimous consent request for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. so on behalf both the majority and minority leaders, and i ask that unanimous consent -- this request be agreed to the request be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: and, mr. president, just so i can have a moment to speak with the atlant -- senatom louisiana, i'm going to suggest
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the absence of a quorum.
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the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. pursuant to my conversation with the distinguished committee chairman -- the presiding officer: with all due respect, senator, the senate's in a quorum. mr. vitter: i ask unanimous consent to call off the quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. vitter: thank you. and now pursuant with my conversation with the distinguished committee chairman, i'd ask unanimous consent to temporarily set aside the pending amendment to call up the toomey-vitter amendment. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. leahy: i understand he will then set aside that amendment, at least temporarily, so we move forward on some of the other amendments. vit i have i have no problem -- mr. vitter: i have no problem allowing the other amendments to be made pending. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the amendment. the clerk: the senator from louisiana, mr. vitter for mr. toomey and himself, proposes amendment number 112. mr. vitter: i ask unanimous consent the -- to waive reading of the whole -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, this toomey-vitter amendment is the full faith and credit act, the concept which has been discussed several weeks prior to this week, but it is very timely as we're all rightly focused on the spending and debt issue with the thursday deadline coming up. mr. president, no one that i
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know of wants the government to be shut down in any way, shape, or form. no one that i know of wants any massive significant disruption. but lots of people that i know of, including in louisiana, want us to change business as usual here in washington starting with spending and debt. and this full-faith and credit amendment is an important step in that regard. mr. president, because of the time limitations in front of us before we move to other pending business at 4:30, i will agree to come back at a later time to fully lay out this toomey-vitter amendment, as well as a second-degree vitter amendment which i will be advancing with regard to social security. but it is very important to have this pending to put it on the floor to start this debate with
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vigor about spending and debt, changing the fiscal policy of this country so we get on a more sustainable path. there's only one thing certain about this debate, mr. president, and that is if we don't change the fiscal path we're on, it will lead to an economic disaster. an absolute economic disaster. so i urge us to debate these important proposals immediately, well before the thursday deadline and come to a strong, positive resolution. i'll be back on the floor soon with senator toomey to fully explain this as well as the vitter second-degree amendment. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: i send a motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont.
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mr. leahy: mr. president, i have a unanimous consent request at 4:30 to go to judicial nominations. the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. leahy: then i would ask regular order. a senator: regular order, mr. president. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, amy totenberg of georgia to be nine states district judge for the northern district of georgia. steven c. jones of georgia to be united states district judge for the northern district of georgia. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will now,
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one hour of debate equally divided and controlled in the usual form. the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, the nominees to be considered today are both the majority. they are both reported unanimously by the judiciary committee this year. actually, they are also both reported unanimously by the judiciary committee last year. they were among the 19 judicial nominees who were ready to be confirmed by the senate last year but were not. when there was objection to proceeding last year, the vacancies persisted, the president had to renominate them, and the judiciary committee had to reconsider their nominations. and i expect that the senate will confirm them both tonight. i would hope they would do so unanimously. both have the support of their home state senators, senator isakson and senator chambliss,
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and worked with president obama and with me in connection with these nominations. while i'm encouraged that the senate is proceeding today, i am disappointed that we did not consider these nominees and other nominees from california and north carolina and the district of columbia before the president's day recess. we used to clear the calendar of nominations before recess. as i said, all six of these judicial nominees were approved unanimously, every republican and every democrat on the judiciary committee weeks before the recess. when they are considered, i fully expect they are going to be confirmed unanimously by the senate. now while we have high judicial
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vacancies around the country, the senate should be considering judicial nominations without unnecessary delays. litigants all over the country are having a hard time getting to have their cases heard in courts because of all the vacancies. when we have all these nominees that are on the calendar, having had unanimous support, both republicans and democrats and the senate judiciary, we ought to least vote them up or vote them down so we can fill these vacancies. in fact, when these two nominations are confirmed, there are still going to be nearly 100 judicial vacancies around the country. that's too many. they have persisted for too long. that is why chief justice roberts, attorney general holder, white house counsel bob bauer and many others, including
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the president of the united states have spoken out and urged the senate to act. now, nearly one out of every eight federal judgeships is vacant. one out of every eight. that puts at serious risk americans all over the country. -- the country to have the ability to have a fair hearing, and the real price that is being paid for these unnecessary delays is the judges that remain are overburdened, the american people that depend on them are being denied hearings, and being denied justice in a timely fashion, whether you're a plaintiff or the defendant, whether you're a prosecutor or a defendant. so we can consider and confirm this president's nominations to the federal bench in a timely manner, especially when president obama has worked with both democratic and republican home state senators to identify
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superbly qualified consensus nominations. none of the nominations on the executive calendar are controversial. they all have the support of their home state senators, republicans and democrats. all have a strong commitment to the rule of law. all have demonstrated faithfulness to the constitution. now, during president bush's first term, in his first four tumultuous years in office, we proceeded to confirm 205 of his judicial nominations. 100 of those were done in 17 months during the time i was chairman, during his first two years in office. i was chairman for 17 months of those 24 months. we had had the case where 60 of president clinton's nominations had been pocket filibustered by
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those on the other side of the aisle. i said let's break this. and we showed good faith in moving 100 of president bush's nominees in 17 months. the remaining 31 months under republican control, they moved another 105. but so far in president obama's third year in office, the senate has only been allowed to consider 67 of his federal, circuit and district court nominees, as compared to over 100 for president bush. so we remain well short of the benchmark that was set during the bush administration set by democrats being in control of the senate. and if we can approach what we did with president bush, we could reduce vacancies from the historically high levels at which they remain throughout the first three years of the obama
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administration to the historically low level we reached toward the end of the bush administration. and i know the distinguished senator from iowa is going to want to speak on this, and time has been reserved for him, so i will first yield to the senator from pennsylvania on my time. mr. casey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: mr. president, i rise to ask consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: mr. president, i rise today to offer a tribute to honor robert w.bogle and the philadelphia tribune newspaper. bob bogle's family and many of his friends are with us here in washington, d.c. they have traveled from philadelphia and other parts of our state and beyond to be with us. and as we pay tribute to his leadership and his commitment to
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the philadelphia african-american community and to all the people of the city of philadelphia in southeastern pennsylvania. i rise as well to honor the role that the philadelphia tribune, as a leader in the black press, has played in communities in pennsylvania and throughout our state. this is the fifth year which i've come to the floor of the united states senate to honor a prominent african-american pennsylvanian as part of the celebration of black history month. bob bogle today joins the reverend leon sullivan, judge leon higgenbotthom, former transportation secretary, bill coleman, and former pennsylvania secretary of the commonwealth steve d. tucker in being recognized this month in this way. but today we talk about bob bogle and "the philadelphia tribune" in a larger sense. the history and the future of
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the black press in pennsylvania and across the country. but from the time that bob was a young child, his life has been inseparable from the "philadelphia tribune." bob's father john bogle was the advertising director at the "philadelphia tribune" and bob still reminisces about the playground that he lived in which was much different than the playground that most children live in. as early as the age of 7, bob would roam the "tribune" building while waiting for his father to finish work. berth goodfrey employed by "the tribune" since 1956 and now senior vice president recalls a young bob bogle wandering around curiously, observing the production department and other areas of the production of the "philadelphia tribune" newspaper. in 1970, bob bogle started selling advertising for the tribune and quickly worked his way up, impressing his
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colleagues and business associates alike. in 1973, he became advertising director, 2349176, director of marketing, and by 1983, executive vice president and treasurer before becoming president and chief executive officer of "the tribune" in 1989. despite his early exposure to "the tribune," bob did not initially plan on a career in journalism. he attended chaney state college, now by the name of chaney university to study sociology and he urged a b.a. in urban studies. after that and after it became clear that he was going to play a role in the management of "the tribune," he also attended the university of pennsylvania's wharton school to study marketing and economics. he has completed courses of study at temple university and the rochester institute of technology and continues to this day to hone his newspaper
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expertise by participating in annual workshops in many areas of marketing and advertising and publishing. now, bob has become a role model for philadelphia african-americans and for the community at large, and he served in leadership roles in a wide range of professional, civic and social organizations. in the interest of time, i won't read those, but i'll make sure that they all get in the record. bobs' -- bob's also been honored for his service and for his leadership. in 2002, president george w. bush appointed him to serve as a member of the national museum of african-american history and culture. that commission in place at that time that he was named to. in the year 2000, he received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from drexel university in philadelphia. in addition, bob has been a member of so many other organizations, too numerous to name. while he is recognized as a community leader in various
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realms, it is bob's role at "the tribune" and with the black press movement that stands out as his life's work. today, few would question that the right -- few would question that the right to a free press as enshrined in the bill of rights applies to all. the right ensures that all americans can participate in a vigorous and healthy debate necessary for a well-functioning democracy. but when our constitution was first ratified, as you will recall, most african-americans were not recognized as citizens and had few, if any, opportunities for participation in our democracy. it was not until a group of courageous men living in new york gathered some 30 years after the ratification of the constitution that african-americans finally found an institution where they could -- quote -- plead their own case, unquote, as they said at the time. in 1827, editors john brown
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rossworm and samuel elliott cornish published "freedom's journal," the first black newspaper in america. the newspaper provided african-americans with a public square of their own where they could participate in their own discussions and advocate for african-americans. as these two distinguished leaders wrote in their first editorial -- quote -- "too long have others spoken for us. too long has the public been deceived by misrepresentations." unquote. while "the freedom's journal" was short-lived, it began what was no less than a revolution. other black newspapers arose and began to explore subjects that were previously off-limits in the press of the day. new black newspapers delved into previously unmentionable hardships in crafting a new identity for freed and enslaved african-americans. topics such as slavery and menial labor were examined by
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african-americans for african-americans. for the first time in the history of our country, african-americans were able to speak freely through a press of their own. in addition, african-americans could start announcing to the world some of their most precious moments in life, like births and anniversaries and deaths and other family news. the black press helped establish a new extended community of african-americans all across the united states of america. the black press expanded in the years prior to the civil war, as over 40 publications across the nation provided african-americans with viewpoints on issues such as emigration to africa, emancipation in the south of the united states, and, of course -- of course -- abolition and freedom. frederick douglas was one of the many who publish add black newspaper in which he, like many others, urged african-american
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men in the north to enlist in the union army. the post-civil war era saw a period of rapid growth for the black press. the first daily newspaper -- the new orleans tribune -- was published in 1864, and newspapers continued to open across the country, as african-americans migrated from the south. by the 1880's, it became evident that the growing african-american population need add newspaper. christopher j. per riy followed the void. he moved to philadelphia to start a newspaper because, "for my people to make progress, they must have a newspaper in which they can speak and speak out against injustice." mr. perry's newspaper," "the philadelphia tribune"," often
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told a different story from that of the city's traditional newspapers. mr. perry in "the philadelphia tribune" established themselves as leaders of the growing african-american community in philadelphia. "the tribune" published stories highlighting black institutions across philadelphia. l. that were not reported by the -- that were not reported by the mainstream papers. mr. perry championed the cozes of the african-american community, from covering important events to offering articles about champions of social and racial equality. additionally, he provided a forum for african-americans to report on job openings, musical performances, and other happenings within the african-american society. after mr. perry passed away in may of 1921, his children continued the traditions he began in the pages of the "philadelphia tribune." the second generation of perries continued to fight for the equality of african-americans. umean to washington rose,
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mr. per chic son-in-law, succeeded him as editor. as dorothy anderson wrote in aty h. tribute in 1958, "in no years since "the philadelphia tribune" first burst upon the philadelphia scene was there a single edition which should not press for equal rights, equal opportunities, and equal privileges." -- for the african-american community. umean to rhodes continued to spotlight social issues around the city of philadelphia and around the country by focusing on the northern migration during the 1920's and dangerous housing conditions for african-americans in philadelphia during the 1930's. in addition, he provided a much-needed -- or much-needed, i should say, support for some of the first african-american politicians in the city of philadelphia, such as john asbury and andrew stevens, the first african-americans elected to the pennsylvania house of representatives.
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perhaps most importantly, the tribune led the fight against segregation in the philadelphia school district by creating its own legal defense fund and publishing many editorials championing the equality of african-americans. in 1940, the publish #er of the chicago defender called a meeting of the major publications which made up the black press. he proposed that newspapers from -- newspapers forum, an advocacy group, to ensure the long-term survival of the black press. "the philadelphia tribune" was one of the newspapers invited to take part. and out of this first conference grew the national newspaper publishers association. over 200 newspapers are members today in the association -- and the association provides vital services to the black press so that its members can continue to report on african-american -- on the african-american society and community.
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as the current president and c.e.o. of the "philadelphia tribune," bog vogel has continued the traditions of christopher perry, while leading the african-american community of philadelphia into and beyond the 21st century. "the philadelphia tribune" is now the longest operating african-american newspaper in the nation. reeking bob's leadership, the -- recognizing bob's leadership, the association has honored "the tribune" with the association's highest hadn't for best newspaper in america. the award is named for john b. us arewarm chairman of "freedom's journal" in the 1800's. recognized as a leading member of the black press, bob vogel has served two terms as president of the national
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newspapers publishers association and is credited with awareness of african-american issueissues and lifestyles. he is also a founding members and president of the african-american news and information consortium, a group of premier black newspapers in some of the largest markets in the united states of america. finally, bob continues in his role as ambassador for the city of philadelphia. he sees race as leading issue, still plaguing our nation. but he remains relentlessly optimistic. i'm quoting bob here. "i'm deeply engaged in the community. i believe that philadelphia, as the birthplace of america, is the best city in america. it's diverse, has great size and our success will come from our collective understanding of who we are." "the philadelphia tribune," though dedicated to representing the black community, also honors
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the black community and we have nonafrican-americans in every area of our business. " i am quoting bob there. bob has been a leader not just in the african-american community but a leader in the philadelphia community at large. for many years and especially active in the advancement of young african-americans who live in philadelphia and the region, he describes his fill lossty this way: "to be responsible for what you do and be the best at it. we need to account for what we do. accountability means responsibility and taking pride your work and doing the best you can." unquote. so says bob vogel and these are good words to live by. they're words we can take to heart and stride every day in our own lives to live by. i am so honored to be able to offer this tribute today to bob vogel, to his team at the "philadelphia tribune" and to, in a larger sense, the history
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and, most importantly, the future of the african-american press, so-called the black press, in the united states of america. so, please join me today in honoring a man of strength, a man of character, accomplishment and service: robert w. vogel of philadelphia, pennsylvania. mr. president, i would yield the floor. and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. chambliss: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. chambliss: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. chambliss: mr. president, i rise today along with my colleague from georgia, senator isakson to commend to this body the confirmation of two judges that have been nominated by president obama for the northern district of georgia. first of all, amy tottenberg -- totenberg, is an atlanta lawyer who has the academic credentials that have prepared her we will, being a graduate of radcliffe college of harvard and also the harass vrd law school.
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she began law school in atlanta in 1977 with the law project and then went out on her own for 20 years. during that time, as a solo practitioner, she specialized in constitutional rights and also became a we will-known arbitrator and mediator and particularly in employment and civil rights cases. she served as a court-appointed monitor and mediator for the u.s. district court for the district of columbia and has served as a special master for the u.s. district court in maryland on an institutional education reform case. ms. totenberg has a wealth of experience in that issue, having served as general counsel to the city of at l.a.n. t.s.a. board of education from 1994-to-1998. and also served as a part-time newspaper court judge in atlanta for several years. she also has been an ajufnghts professor amendmentry university law school and has been deeply involved in her community in addition to her legal activities. ms. totenberg lab a member of the state personnel board,
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served as a member of the governor's education reform commission, and given her time to hands-on atlanta, the city's largest volunteer service program. i commend ms. totenberg for confirmation today, as her name comes before this body. steve jones has been a friend for a long time. he's one of those guys that if you had to pick a jurist, he's the guy that you would want to go before, whether you're a lawyer, whether you're a defendant or whether you're a plaintiff or a defendant in a civil lawsuit. steve jones is a native of agent agent -- of athens, georgia, graduated from the university of georgia, graduate of the law school there at the university of georgia. he began his legal career as an assistant district attorney, then became a municipal court judge. and then in 1995 he was
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appointed to the superior court bench for the western judicial circuit which


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